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Pol Bury’s letter states his decision to withdraw his participation from the 1969 São Paulo Biennial due to the fact that several Brazilian artists had informed him that another biennial, held in Bahia, was compelled to close and that paintings were burned. Under these circumstances, Pol Bury not only considers it a moral cause but also a cause that affects all artists. Whenever leaders dictate rules for artists to follow, it is necessary to safeguard the profession. 


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 and supporter of the New Realism, who collaborated in the journal Domus, published in Milan, and presided over the Palais de Tokyo (Paris). Restany was always interested in contemporary art and in achieving a closer rapport with Latin American Art.


The Belgian artist Pol Bury (1922-2005) addresses this letter to Francis de Lulle, who served in the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The document reports on the meeting held to promote the initiative of a boycott of the São Paulo Biennial. This source was chosen because it documents the artists’ reaction vis-à-vis a regime of censorship, repression, and torture that concealed the rampant prohibitionist and authoritarian policies of that time.

Cristina Rossi
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Archivo Julio Le Parc, París, Francia.