Exhibitions Museums News Chile

Push to restage show that was cancelled due to Chile’s 1973 coup

Organisers hope to bring the works to Santiago to fulfil a Nobel Prize-winning poet’s wishes

David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mayday Parade, 1952. Photo: courtesy Museo Arte Carrillo Gil

On the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Chilean coup, a museum in Chile and one in Mexico are hoping to organise an exhibition of Mexican art that never opened because of President Salvador Allende’s overthrow.

The exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, included 169 works by the Mexican artists, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and José Clemente Orozco. But instead of attending the opening on 13 September 1973—two days after the coup—the show’s curator, Fernando Gamboa, was arranging the safe return of the works and his own escape.

The show was the idea of Pablo Neruda, the poet and Nobel Prize winner, who had become a friend of Rivera and Siquieros when consul to Mexico during in the 1940s. Neruda died within days of the coup and the text for the exhibition catalogue was possibly the last thing he wrote.

The works came from the Carrillo Gil collection, which was purchased by the Mexican state in 1974 and are now housed in the Museo Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City. The organisers face one major challenge: all those paintings now have the status of Mexican national heritage and only ten will be allowed to leave the country on a single plane. However, Rafael Vargas, a curator at the Museo Arte Carrillo Gil, is determined. He says: “The exhibition must return someday to Chile. Neruda’s wish that the three great muralists are shown in Chile must be fulfilled.”

For more info in Spanish, see the report in the Mexican newspaper El Universal

David Alfaro Siqueiros, Death and Funeral of Cain, 1947. Photo: courtesy Museo Arte Carrillo Gil
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