Signed with only the pseudonym “Savonarola,” this article in the format of a letter to Peruvian academic painter Enrique Domingo Barreda is a response to the article by him published in the same newspaper two days before (1943). [See in the ICAA digital archive these two related texts by Barreda: “Sobre el arte en el Perú: necesidad y obligación” (1289889) and “Algo sobre el arte en el Perú” (1143340)].
In 1943, after a period when there was almost no governmental support for the arts, the I Salón Municipal de Lima was launched as an attempt to remedy that situation. A great many artists abstained from participating in the event, however, due to the largely conservative jurors, among them Enrique Domingo Barreda, an influential academic painter. Although Barreda’s critical reflection on the salon was based on an attack on Indianism, the reigning tendency in Peruvian painting at the time, his critiques encompassed as well the academic criteria used to allocate awards. Supporters of modern art like Juan Ríos and Raúl María Pereira (1916–2007) criticized the triumph of the “photographic” style of José Gutiérrez Infantas (1897–1997), who was defended by conservative intellectual Mercedes Gallagher de Parks (1883–1950). Pereira’s rebuttal cast doubt on the legitimacy of the academicism of the day; he tacitly intended to posit a necessary tie between art and modernity. Paradoxically, the academic bent of the salon evidenced the final retreat of that tendency from the Peruvian scene, though Indianist critics and artists had played a role, albeit a minor one, in the previous decade. The modernist advance had considerable influence on the withdrawal of government support for pictorial Indianism; the founder of that movement, José Sabogal (1888–1956), was soon removed from his post as director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes.