On December 26, 1975, the winners of the Premios Nacionales de Cultura for 1973/74 were announced. The prizes, given by the Peruvian State through the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC), recognized the most important contributions to the development of Peruvian culture. The articles published in the press placed particular emphasis on the prize given in the art category; while it had traditionally been geared to painting, sculpture, music, and architecture, this prize went to Andean altarpiece maker Joaquín López Antay (1897–1981) instead of to a recognized visual artist, such as Carlos Quízpez Asín (1900–83) or Teodoro Núñez Ureta (1912–88), or to academic musician Rodolfo Holzmann (1910–92). The decision gave rise to one of the most heated polemics in the history of Peruvian art, one that brought to the surface the often latent tensions and mistrust surrounding the cultural policies of the so-called Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas under General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968–75). With his populist and nationalist policies, he attempted to revalorize the image of the peasant and of peasant lifestyles as opposed to “Western” cultural forms.
[For further reading on this polemic, see in the ICAA digital archive (unsigned) “Es sólo el punto de vista de una ‘selecta’ minoría…” (855170)].