Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

Leonardo Estarico critiques the seven artists (Antonio Berni, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Horacio Butler, Ramón Goméz Cornet, Héctor Basaldúa, Aquiles Badi, and Emilio Pettoruti) who exhibited at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art]. He ponders the qualities of each artist, and hints at the possibility that including others (i. e., Xul Solar), it would have been an anthological show of modern Argentinean painting.


The modernization of art forms in Argentina had one of its main periods in the 1920s. Following the artists linked to the Martín Fierro journal—Emilio Pettoruti (1892–1971), Xul Solar (1887–1963) and Norah Borges (1901–98)—towards the end of the decade Alfredo Guttero’s (1882–1932) activities came to light, in addition to that of the Artistas del Pueblo [Artists of the Town] involved with social political engraving, and the local activity of the artists who trained in Paris: Aquiles Badi (1894–1976), Horacio Butler (1897–1983), Héctor Basaldúa (1895–1976), Raquel Forner (1902–88), Alfredo Bigati (1898–1964), Antonio Berni (1905–81) and Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896–1964).


In the early-1930s, there was a confrontation between two poles. On the one hand, the artists who defended political art, driven in 1933 by the arrival of Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974); its key figures were Berni and Spilimbergo. On the other hand, those who proposed the formal renewal of pure art; among them Emilio Pettoruti, Butler, and most of the artists trained in the so-called School of Paris. However, both circles shared the awareness of being modern artists in overt opposition with academic Naturalism. 


The emergence of Nationalism during the 1930s changed the confrontational policies of Communism with the liberal, socialist, and democratic sectors in order to form antifascist and antimilitaristic alliances. This document presents the cultural response to this policy in a retrospective show of "modern artists" to point out the joint task carried out by these artists. Having been strongly opposed only two years before, they strove in tandem to impose artistic modernity since the 1920s. Therefore, a manifesto justified the joint presentation defending modernity, and beyond their differences regarding aesthetic and political issues.


Leonardo Estarico is an art critic who was close to Emilio Pettoruti (1892–1971) and was a collaborator in Crítica [Critique]. He was a promoter of the Boliche de Arte [The Cheap Bar of Art] fair, as an alternative space for exhibitions towards the end of the 1920s, in addition to being the director of the Agrupación de Artistas Signo [Signo Artists Group] in 1933–34 (see document no. 789370). See Leonardo Estarico, "Mapa de la pintura argentina" ["Map of Argentinean Painting"] in Argentina: periódico de arte y crítica [Argentina: Journal of Art and Critique], document no. 729883. 


For the manifesto of modern artists in 1935, see document no. 733845; for the exhibition catalogue, see document no. 733857. For the critique of modern artists by Julio Rinaldini in El Mundo [The World], see document no. 733926, and for the one published in May 1935 on the same topic, see document no. 767941. 

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fundación Spilimbergo.