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This article explains that the Sociedad Argentina de Artistas Plásticos [Argentine Society of Visual Artists] called a meeting at which they decided not to participate in the National Salon (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1971). Instead, they agreed to organize a parallel salon whose guiding principles would consist of: “Freedom for political, union, and student prisoners; and a repeal of repressive laws, the death penalty, censorship of the arts, and torture.” Under the terms of the Society’s decision not to participate in the National Salon, they also agreed to refuse to act as jurors.


Argentina’s Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Salon for the Visual Arts] was founded in 1911, and its regulations were modified over time whenever it was deemed necessary to do so. In 1968 and 1969 the Salón Nacional included the Sección “Investigaciones Visuales” [“Visual Research” Section] in order to provide space for new forms of experimental art (kinetic objects, Pop, etc.) which in turn led to the Certamen Anual de Investigaciones Visuales [Annual Visual Research Contest] in 1970 and 1971. At the II Certamen Nacional de InvestigacionesVisuales [2nd National Visual Research Contest], organized during the de facto administration of then-President Alejandro Agustín Lanusse (1971-1973), the authorities censored the works that had been awarded Grand Runner-Up Prize and First Prize. The government used Executive Decree 5696/71 to exclude the prize-winning works from the exhibition and declare them “unacceptable” due to their “manifest ideological intent.” As a result, neither of the jury’s two prizes was awarded. The government’s decision was condemned by artists and by certain cultural organizations, and led to several lawsuits.

La Opinión, the Argentine newspaper founded by Jacobo Timerman in 1971, was critical of the government and its actions. In 1977 it was closed and expropriated by the de facto regime of [President] Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-81). Hugo Monzón was an Argentine art critic in charge of the Visual Arts Section of La Opinión and director of the Museo de Artes Plásticas, Eduardo Sívori [Eduardo Sívori, Museum of Visual Arts].

This article was chosen because it describes how artists reacted to the National Salon a year after the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities against the II Certamen de Investigaciones Visuales in 1971, and reports on their response to the oppressive curtailment of freedom of expression and the censorship imposed by the regime that was in power at the time.

Cristina Rossi.
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the personal archives of Hugo E. Monzón, Buenos Aires, R. Argentina
Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana "Dr. Emilio Ravignani".