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This article reports that the Mexican artists Alberto Gironella and Rufino Tamayo decided to support the position adopted by David Alfaro Siqueiros, as regards his decision not to attend the São Paulo Biennial, in a show of repudiation to the regime governing that country (Brazil). The article also points out that Silvia Ambrosini —the commissioner for the Argentine delegation— received a communication expressing its supprt of the boycott by the Comissão Brasileira da Associação Internacional de Artistas Plásticos [Brazilian Committee of the International Association of Visual Artists]. This action notwithstanding, the authorities proceeded to burn three works of art, confiscate sixteen, and detain several artists at the Bahia Biennial. A similar situation arose at the Salão de Arte Moderna de Belo Horizonte [Belo Horizonte Salon of Modern Art], and with the artists chosen for the 4th Paris Biennial. This information never saw the light of day due to censorship. Given this environment, the delegations of Holland, the United States, Belgium, and France withdrew their participation, and the exhibit Art and Technology—which was being prepared by the French critic Pierre Restany—also succumbed.


Since its inception in 1951, the São Paulo Biennial has been the centralizing focus for the circulation and recognition of Latin American art. Due to the dictatorship affecting Brazil after the coup of 1964, several groups of artists decided to boycott the 10th São Paulo Biennial that was being planned for September 1969. In France, the leader of the boycott was Pierre Restany (1930–2003), a French critic who supported the New Realism, participated in the journal Domus published in Milan, and presided over the Palais de Tokyo (Paris). Restany was always interested in contemporary art and in a closer rapport with Latin American Art.


Silvia Ambrosini is an art critic who directed the journal Artinf, published in Buenos Aires since 1970. Análisis was a magazine dealing with cultural topics of general interest, also published in Buenos Aires with a weekly circulation during the 1960s.


This document describes the way information concerning the initiative to boycott the São Paulo Biennial circulated within and among the different countries. This source was selected because it is a testimony to the artists’ reaction abroad vis-à-vis the dictatorial policies in Latin America and provides information concerning the censorship that concealed the rampant prohibitionist and authoritarian policies of that time. 

Cristina Rossi
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fundación Espigas.