The “immodest” sculptures that scandalized the porteños and had to move
This story happened almost 120 years ago, but it is still common knowledge among porteños. If there is an artist misunderstood and a victim of censorship, it was Lola Mora. First, with his outcast Fountain of the Nereids, and then with the sculptural groups that he conceived for the National Congress that, shortly after being inaugurated, in 1910, suffered public derision. They called them “artistic monstrosities” and “nonsense” and they were removed, and donated to the province of Jujuy, in 1921.
The fountain was conceived in Rome and designed for the Plaza de Mayo. The artist had chosen Nereo as the central figure, but the authorities objected for a sea god to have such an important role and they suggested that it be exchanged for Venus, female figure of greater universal acceptance. The Roca government, through Mayor Bullrich, accepted the sketches, but soon the newspapers of the time echoed a campaign against them. Some criticized that the fountain lacked national motives, and others, more villagers, rejected the nudes of men and women a few meters from the Cathedral.
A municipality in Philadelphia, in the United States, offered Mora a large sum for his work. The woman from Tucumán, in need of funds, turned to the Argentine authorities, who came out to support her. Finally, and after much debate about where to locate it, the Lola Mora Fountain (as it ended up being called) was inaugurated on May 21, 1903 in Leandro N. Alem and Cangallo. The debate, however, continued. The author Pablo Rojas Paz took it as part of his novel Marbles in the rain, in which he makes his heroine say: “I do not intend to descend into the field of controversy; nor do I try to enter into discussion with that invisible and powerful enemy that is slander. But I deeply regret that the spirit of certain people, impurity and sensualism, have prevailed over the aesthetic pleasure of contemplating a human nude, the most wonderful architecture that God could have created.
“Art is man’s response to nature and its improvement; but there is an aesthetic education as there is a political education, a moral education and a religious one. Human beings do not achieve any of these forms of education except with a fine and An attentive discipline. Each one sees in a work of art what is in his spirit beforehand; the angel or the devil are always fighting in the eyes of man. I have not crossed the ocean in order to offend my modesty. people; I would be horrified to think that anyone could have imagined such a thing. ” (…).
Of course, Lola Mora was not the only one to suffer criticism. A replica of the award-winning Sagunto from Spanish Agustin Querol (author of the famous Monumento de los Españoles de Av. del Libertador) was acquired by Eduardo Schiaffino in Europe, but the awards did not prevent his long pilgrimage. It was located in 1908 in the Plaza Rodríguez Peña, until 1950 it was in the Plaza San Martín, then it passed through Plaza España, in Barracas, and in 1974 it reached its current location, in the Botanical Garden.
The task of beautifying Buenos Aires had been taken very seriously by Ernesto de la Cárcova and Eduardo Schiaffino, from his positions as a member of the Municipal Commission and director (and founder) of the National Museum of Fine Arts. “Until 1905, the decorative statue was missing in Buenos Aires, whose function is none other than to put a note of fickle grace in the anemic landscape that at times interrupts the semi-cloister life of the citizen,” said the second. Thanks to De la Cárcova Aires has The sower Y The Reaper de Meunier, and The cicada of Charpentier. Schiaffino, for his part, acquired the replica of The Thinker by Rodin, The First Colds of Blay and the aforementioned Sagunto.
The Aurora by Frenchman Émile Peynot also spent his early years in the Plaza Rodríguez Peña. In 1928 it was moved to Rivadavia Park, in 1943 it was moved to Chacabuco Park and in 1978 it was located in Centennial Park, next to the lake, where it is currently, and without bars.
The man and his passions, from Caesar Santiano –Author also of the “Wounded Gladiator” – seems to have found peace in the Plaza Balcarce de Saavedra. But the magazine a note from the magazine Atlantis In 1938, he gave an account of his long pilgrimage: “He was branded as immoral… That naked man fleeing with those two women could not be admitted in a public place. The first place he occupied was the Pereyra Park, it was half hidden among a group of weeping willows, a favorite plant of Alfredo de Musset and the romantics. When she was discovered there was such a scandal that she had to be transferred. The ladies of Barracas, the most serious and energetic, formed a commission and requested the transfer. After a long and intense campaign, the removal of the statue from Pereyra Park was ordered and it ended up in the municipal corralón. In those circumstances the neighborhood of Villa Devoto demanded an ornament for its beautiful square. They consulted the opinion of engineer Thays. The request was supported by some councilors. The tour director thought of “The man and his passions.” They raised the pedestal, prepared a simple ceremony, and set up the statue. But such a racket was put together by the religious congregations and other charities that she had to be removed immediately and taken to her customary shelter in the corralón. It was at rest for a long time, until, after the Balcarce square was transformed, the neighbors demanded a work of art. Engineer Thays proposed the walking statue, installed it and protested again in the name of moral principles and even threw little bombs of tar. But this time the trial prevailed, and now the whiteness of its marble can be observed in the reference square ”.
Progress -Also called The genius protecting the city– It is the work of the French Tony noel. It was acquired by Jules Dormal directly from its author in Paris, and it was for 30 years in the square of the Teatro Colón, which was recently finished. By municipal disposition of January 19, 1940, it was transferred to the Army of the Andes square in Villa Luro.
For reasons of “moral” was withdrawn, in 1931, the so-called Maiden’s Fountain The Catalan Fountain, work of Josep Llimona i Bruguera donated by that community for the Centennial. It was in Rivadavia Park, next to the church of Santa María and the school of Nuestra Señora de Caacupé. Towards 1965, a certain discomfort began to circulate for reasons of “decorum” and finally, the priest Fernando Carballo denounced the inappropriateness of the statue to the government of Lanusse. In 1971, it was located in Plaza San Martín; It was there until 2006, when the Legislature responded to the request of the residents of Caballito who requested that it be restored to its original site.
There are other beautiful nude sculptures that are not exhibited, more for bureaucratic reasons, public works, or lack of budget than sinful ones. That of Leandro and Hero (also known as El Beso), who was in El Rosedal, takes a long nap in a municipal warehouse.
Teen Girl by George Müller had its first location in Florida and Bartolomé Miter until the monument to Sáenz Peña was built there. Then, it ended up at Plaza Suipacha (where the monument to Dorrego was later located). Ernesto de la Cárcova took her to the gardens of the School of Fine Arts and there, facing the river, she remained for several years until, in 1932, Dr. De Vedia y Miter intervened so that she was transferred to the Plaza Emilio Miter, opposite to the “gothic” faculty of Engineering. You have had no luck. His head was mutilated and he spent years in a warehouse. It returned to its place in Las Heras and Pueyrredón in 2013, but due to new works in that square, it has been withdrawn again.
Finally, the much photographed Ondina del Plata (also called Spring) that adorned the Botanical Fountain for many years, was removed in 2018 and is waiting to be transferred to the brick building of that site, which will house a museum.