This article from the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal is of interest because it sheds light on the legitimizing effect that international events (exhibitions, prizes, and awards) conveyed in Latin America. Famous exhibition spaces, or those considered as such, and opinions concerning value (applicable at a local level) helped to give these artists exceptional reputations and, through them, crystalized progressive hopes and dreams that extended beyond the realm of art itself. Such was the case of Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez in Venezuela in the mid-twentieth century.
The writer of this article claims that the prizes received at a provincial festival—of the kind that were organized during the main tourist seasons (spring and summer) in the south of France—were an unquestionable “triumph” because two of the three prizewinners were Venezuelans. The fact that they were competing against artists from thirty-four countries is presented as proof of their international value. The article lists Soto’s exhibitions in several European and North American cities, noting the fame of the galleries that exhibit his works and the controversies sparked among better qualified critics by the exhibition of his works. The article misidentifies the winner of the first prize at the event as Jean [sic] Vasarely, and erroneously describes him as French instead of Hungarian.
The article notes the legitimacy achieved by artists who were producing Kinetic art and works of Geometric Abstraction at that time. That legitimacy goes a long way to explaining the enormous impact their works had on the idea of incorporating art into architecture (particularly during the 1970s and 1980s). At that time, it was clear that any corporation or firm that could flaunt one of their works was perceived to be anointed with the same aura of legitimacy that surrounded the artists at an international level, suggesting a commitment to modernity, strength, and progressiveness. Articles of this kind were the local equivalent of opinions expressed by certain art critics (Alfred Boulton most of all), for whom Venezuela was no longer a third world country but had (through the visual arts) taken its place among developed nations.