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  • ICAA Record ID
    Butler, Horacio, 1897-
    Carta abierta / Horacio Butler... [et al.]
    Argentina : periódico de arte y crítica (Buenos Aires, Argentina). -- Vol. 1, no. 2 (Jun. 1931)
    p. 10
    Journal article – Letters

    Butler, Horacio et al. "Carta Abierta." Argentina: Periódico de arte y crítica (Buenos Aires), vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1931): 10.


Open letter by Horacio Butler, accompanied by other signatures, in response to Atilio Chiappori, director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes [National Museum of Fine Arts], published in defense of the production of modern artists. Butler discredited Chiappori’s educational background and pointed out his judging of works that he had never seen. Butler weighs Chiappori’s opinions about the concept of beauty and the “crisis of ugliness” in modern art. Butler comments about the accession of modern artworks in the main museums, thus stating that Chiappori—as director of the MNBA—instead of attacking modern artists is responsible to enrich its holdings.


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).

During all this process of modernization, opposition was brought against “traditional” artists who practiced Post-Impressionist Naturalism. Modern artists, led by Butler, published an open letter criticizing Atilio Chiappori, a defender of the figurative aesthetic then defined as the “national art.” The letter, written by Butler in Paris, is a response to Chiappori’s attack by to modern art while serving as the director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes [National Museum of Fine Arts] (document no. 733960). A group of Modern artists—Norah Borges, Antonio Sibellino, Xul Solar, and Alfredo Guttero, among others—signed the open letter. Berni published an article strongly criticizing both positions (“Cada uno a su lugar” [“To each his own”], document no. 732982). Butler returned to Argentina in 1933 to become one of the chief defenders of pure art, in overt opposition to Berni and Spilimbergo, his recent partners of the Parisian stage. 

Argentina is a publication directed by Cayetano Córdova Iturburu (1902–77) in defense of art’s autonomy, published in the years 1930–31. Later, Córdova Iturburu joined the defenders of political art.

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fundación Bartolomé Hidalgo, Buenos Aires.