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Synopsis

Mario Canale criticizes a campaign organized as much by institutions dedicated to arts education, such as the Mutualidad de Estudiantes de Bellas Artes [Society of Fine Arts Students], as by Communist activists under the influence of David Alfaro Siqueiros. 

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Having been expelled from the United States, David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) traveled to Montevideo in February of 1933, and by the end of May in that same year he had established himself in Buenos Aires. In the River Plate, Siqueiros experimented with technique and presented arguments based on the contents of his lecture Los vehículos de la pintura dialéctico-subversiva [The Vehicles of Dialectical-Subversive Painting], which he had developed while in the United States. In June he exhibited in Buenos Aires at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art], a liberal and modernizing arts institution. He gave controversial lectures that polarized the arts field into the defenders of "arte puro" ["pure art"] and "arte político" ["political art"]. He was supported by Contra. La revista de los francotiradores [Against: The Snipers’ Magazine], run by the leftist writer Raúl González Tuñón [see documents 733230, 733314, and 733270, among others]. He collaborated on the newspaper Crítica [Critique], edited by Natalio Botana. Botana commissioned [Siqueiros] to paint a mural in the cellar of his house, Quinta Los Granados, in Don Torcuato, in the Province of Buenos Aires.

The Equipo Poligráfico Ejecutor [Lead Polygraphic Team]—formed by Siqueiros, Antonio Berni (1905–1981), Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896–1964), Juan Carlos Castagnino (1908–1972), and the Uruguyan set-designer Enrique Lázaro—created Ejericio Plástico [Visual Exercise], with distorted nudes over the curved surface of the vaulted ceiling, by means of photographic projection. It was created as a fresco on cement, using such technical innovations as application by mechanical tools and the use of industrial silicates. In December 1933, sketches and photographs of the mural were presented in the magazine Signo [Sign] premises. Currently the work is in storage due to litigation; damage may affects its conservation.

Argentinean right-wingers strongly attacked the Mexican Communist painter within its publications Bandera Argentina [Argentinean Flag] and Crisol [Melting pot], which were representative of the Catholic nationalism that had gained momentum since the military coup of 1930.  

Momento Plástico [Visual Moment] was the publication of the artists who came together to form the Corporación de Artistas Plásticos [Association of Visual Artists], a professional association organized principally by Mario Canale, who also directed the magazine. The five issues of Momento Plástico were published between April and August of 1933. The galley proofs of issue 6 have been preserved. The institution managed to obtain a certain level of visibility in a brief time, confronting the Comisión Nacional de Bellas Artes [National Commission of Fine Arts] as well as the plans to reform arts education while challenging the Salón Nacional [National Salon]. Emilio Pettoruti, Atilio Boveri, and Alfredo Bigatti were prominent among those who collaborated on Momento Plástico and were also distinguished members of the Association.  

Canale, a disciple of Eduardo Sívori, had been an active student leader during the reforms that started in the 1910s. He also developed Athinæ, a publication of some importance in the art field of that time, which advocated the institutional development of national art. He was an active official of the Comisión de Bellas Artes, in the Province of Buenos Aires, as well as a lecturer at the Universidad de la Plata until the nationalist military interventions of the 1940s.  

This document is a galley proof of issue number 6 of Momento Plástico, which was never published. It is attributed to Mario [A.] Canale. He worried about the ideological impact that Siqueiros was having on Argentinean students and artists; he felt that Siqueiros’s ideas threatened his professional vision for artistic endeavors as well as his concept of a Modern, national art. Canale produced one of the most substantial critiques of Siqueiros’s ideas in Argentina. (See the Mario A. Canale document "La decoración mural y las ideas sociológicas" [Mural Design and Sociological Ideas], 732942.]  

Researcher
Roberto Amigo
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Credit
Courtesy of Hna. Lucía I. Canale, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Fundación Espigas, Archivo Mario A. Canale.