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Galería Pacifico’s murals

  • Kind of Object:
    BuildingMural
  • Name:
    Galería Pacifico’s murals

    Word Count: 5

  • Creator (Organisation):
    Grupo Taller de Arte Mural
  • Year Start:
    1946
  • Year End:
    1946
  • Material:

    Oil on mortar

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Galerías Pacífico, Av. Córdoba 550, Buenos Aires; Urruchúa’s studio, Calle Carlos Calvo (studio).

  • Places of exhibition:

    Galerías Pacífico (in Av. Córdoba 550, 1992); Museo del Libro y de la Lengua (Av. General Las Heras 2555, 2010).

  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Size:

    Dome of 450 square meters and four arches

  • City:
    Buenos Aires (AR)
  • Introduction:

    A key episode in Argentina’s muralism was the creation of an extensive muralist programme at the Galerías Pacífico in 1946, carried out by the Grupo Taller de Arte Mural.

    Word Count: 31

  • Content:

    Between the 1920s and 1940s, muralism became one of the most prominent means of expression and a captivating technical exploration for artists all over Latin America. A key episode in Argentina was the creation of an extensive muralist programme at the Galerías Pacífico in 1946. The project was carried out by the Grupo Taller de Arte Mural (TAM), a politically engaged group of artists with the intention of securing muralism within the cultural scene.
    Galerías Pacífico was one of the most important buildings of Buenos Aires’ urban landscape. Originally founded in 1889 as the Bon Marché galleries, it housed stores and key spaces for the cultural field such as the first Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Sociedad Estímulo de Bellas Artes. In 1908 most of the building was sold to the Ferrocarril Buenos Aires al Pacífico, but still remained part of the city’s core circuit given its closeness to Calle Florida’s art galleries and other relevant sites like Harrods, the only overseas branch of the London store. In 1945 the studio of Aslán and Ezcurra was hired to carry out a series of reforms to the building, which mainly consisted of connecting its entrances from Calles Florida, Córdoba, Viamonte and San Martín with a reinforced concrete dome. 450 square metres of dome sectioned by twelve and four access arches were to be decorated by the Grupo Taller de Arte Mural, a major enterprise and the group's only one.
    Argentinian artists Antonio Berni, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Demetrio Urruchúa and Juan Carlos Castagnino, along with exiled Spanish painter Manuel Colmeiro, created TAM as an association with the aim of bringing together painting and architecture through muralism conceived as a means of social protest with massive outreach.
    On the one hand, the Argentines were embedded with Mexican muralist tradition thanks to the iconic visit of David Alfaro Siqueiros to Buenos Aires in 1933, when he set out the bases for a programmatic local muralist movement and sought to put it into practice through the creation of Ejercicio Plástico, in which Spilimbergo, Berni and Castagnino had participated. On the other hand, the group was closely in touch with the Spanish exiles network, mainly through Colmeiro’s close friendship with artists José Planas Cases and Pompeyo Audivert –with whom he shared a studio– and his involvement in the Agrupación de Intelectuales, Artistas, Periodistas y Escritores (AIAPE).
    The Galerías Pacífico project was a major opportunity for placing muralism at the centre of the cultural scene and consolidating the technique as a means of social protest and awareness. The group was faced with a series of challenges determined by the mural’s size, curvature and proportions, which they solved by creating a scaled plaster sketch suspended in Urruchúas’ workshop in Calle Carlos Calvo 1770. Also, since this was a collaboration between different artistic personalities, they had to agree on a specific colour scheme and general composition so as to achieve “unity in thought and an even attitude in the making” (“Taller de arte mural” 1944, 4).
    The overall result was a series of images with monumental figures that exalted human virtue and its integration with natural forces, a utopian vision of a new humanism (Babino 2006, 167). Each artist was assigned a portion of the dome: El amor by Berni, La Vida Doméstica by Castagnino, La Pareja Humana by Colmeiro, El Dominio de las Fuerzas Naturales by Spilimbergo and La Fraternidad by Urruchúa (Weschler 1999, 206–209). In each of the four arched accesses, lunettes were painted representing the four seasons and placed in a strategic cardinal point: in the east, Spring by Spilimbergo, in the north, Summer by Colmeiro, in the west Autumn by Castagnino and in the south, Winter by Urruchúa.
    The murals were received by more conservative sectors of society with no lack of controversy given the professed left-wing orientation of its creators. However, their artistic and technical quality transcended. For instance, fellow Spanish exile Luis Seoane reviewed Colmeiro’s murals in national terms by stating that his images could be linked to a medieval tradition and that his painting was beginning to “characterise a safe and firm path in Galician art” (Seoane 1946, 26). In this way, exile and the circumstance of the Spanish political background were still able to be evoked through the more general images of women and men that the Galerías Pacífico’s mural depicted.
    From 1992 on, the building became the shopping mall known as the Galerías Pacífico. Whereas the dome paintings remained on site and were restored, the four lunettes were stored away for many years. In 2010, a major campaign was mounted to have them restored and put on display in the Museo del Libro y de la Lengua, built by Clorindo Testa in Av. General Las Heras 2555, in the neighbourhood of Recoleta (Gallegos 2014). Overall, as Berni stated, the Galerías Pacífico murals still remain “a milestone in public monumental painting” (in Gallegos 2014, 122).

    Word Count: 825

  • Signature Image:
    Dome of the Galerías Pacífico, general view (Photo: Milena Gallipoli)
  • Media:
    Manuel Colmeiro, La Pareja Humana, 1946, mural. Galerías Pacífico, Buenos Aires (Photo: Laura Karp Lugo).
    Manuel Colmeiro, Verano, 1946, oil on plaster, 2,5 x 9 m. Museo del Libro y de la Lengua, Buenos Aires.
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Babino, María Elena. “Manuel Colmeiro en Buenos Aires y su participación en los murales de las Galerías Pacífico.” Quintana. Revista de Estudos do Departamento de Historia da Arte, no. 5, 2006, pp. 161–172. Redalyc, www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=65323971010. Accessed 20 April 2021.

    Bermejo, Talía. “Las Galerías Pacífico en la prensa periódica.” Spilimbergo, Fondo Nacional de las Artes, 1999, pp. 210-213.

    Gallegos, Damasia. “Las lunetas de Galerías Pacífico. Un estudio de caso.” Anuario TAREA. Anuario del Instituto de Investigaciones sobre el Patrimonio Cultural, no. 1, September 2014, pp. 119–127, http://revistasacademicas.unsam.edu.ar/index.php/tarea/article/view/353. Accessed 23 April 2021.

    Rabossi, Cecilia and Cristina Rossi. Los muralistas en Galerías Pacífico, exh. cat. Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aries, 2008. Scribd, https://de.scribd.com/document/502764995/71562031-Catalogo-Los-Muralistas-en-CCBorges-2008. Accessed 20 April 2021.

    Wechsler, Diana. “El Taller de Arte Mural y las Galerías Pacífico.” Spilimbergo, Fondo Nacional de las Artes, 1999, pp. 210–213.

    Word Count: 151

  • Archives and Sources:

    Anonymous. “Taller de Arte Mural.” Correo literario, 1 November 1944, p. 4.

    Seoane, Luis. “La pintura mural de Manuel Colmeiro en las Galerías Pacífico.” Galicia. Revista del Centro Gallego, year XXXIII, no. 402, July 1946, p. 26.

    Urruchúa, Demetrio. Memorias de un pintor. Editorial Hugo Torres, 1971.

    Word Count: 43

  • Author:
    Milena Gallipoli
  • Metropolis:
    Buenos Aires
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Milena Gallipoli. "Galería Pacifico’s murals." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2950/object/5140-11020681, last modified: 12-05-2021.
  • Agrupación de Intelectuales, Artistas, Periodistas y Escritores (AIAPE)
    Association

    The Agrupación de Intelectuales, Artistas, Periodistas y Escritores – AIAPE (Association of Intellectuals, Artists, Journalists and Writers) was a main association that helped migrants integrate into Buenos Aires’ cultural life.

    Word Count: 30

    Pompeyo Audivert, Unidad, cover of Unidad por la Defensa de la Cultura, no. 1, January 1936. CeDInCI, Buenos Aires.
    Córdova Iturburu, Cayetano. "Primer Salón de la AIAPE." Unidad por la Defensa de la Cultura, no. 1, January 1936, p. 13. CeDInCI, Buenos Aires.
    Buenos Aires
    Luis Seoane
    PainterMuralistIllustratorLawyer

    Luis Seoane is an artist mainly known for his murals, paintings and illustrations. He spent his childhood and youth in Galicia, before settling in Buenos Aires in 1936.

    Word Count: 27

    Luis Seoane painting the mural Los Músicos at Galería Santa Fe in Buenos Aires, 1953 (Díaz Arias de Castro 2019, 24 and via Wikimedia Commons).
    Luis Seoane, Emigrantes, 1953, oil on canvas, 108 x 80 cm. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires.Luis Seoane, Fascimo, cover of Unidad por la Defensa de la Cultura, no. 2, September 1937. CeDInCI, Buenos Aires.
    Buenos Aires
    Pompeyo Audivert
    EngraverIllustrator

    Spanish-born Pompeyo Audivert migrated to Buenos Aires in 1911. He specialized in engraving, mastering its technique to the point of becoming a central figure in the local artistic field.

    Word Count: 28

    Pompeyo Audivert, engraving printed in Lamarque, Nydia. "Vosotros, enemigos." Unidad por la Defensa de la Cultura, no. 2, February 1936.
    Cuadrado, Arturo. “El grabador Pompeyo Audivert.” Correo Literario, 15 March 1944, p. 5.Pompeyo Audivert, Unidad, cover of Unidad por la Defensa de la Cultura, no. 1, January 1936. CeDInCI, Buenos Aires.
    Buenos Aires