The aim of this article is to discuss the political and artistic implications around the award granted to the painting Limões (Lemons) by the Italian artist Danilo Di Prete (Zambra, 1911 - São Paulo, 1985) at the 1st São Paulo Biennial in 1951, as part of the Brazilian representation. The prize caused a lot of controversy in the Brazilian art world, mainly due to three issues. The first relates to the fact that the award was assigned to an Italian artist and not a Brazilian one; the second was that the visual language of Di Prete’s award-winning work Limões was questioned for not being considered as modern as Max Bill’s sculpture, which also received an award at the exhibition; and the third has to do with the suspicion that the prize was awarded to Di Prete because of his involvement in the organisation of the 1st Bienal de São Paulo.
By focusing on this specific case and the controversies it caused, the paper proposes on the one side to analyse the political, national, and artistic factors that led to Di Prete’s accolade at the exhibition. On the other, it aims to discuss the theoretical, political, and artistic assumptions that inspired the artist to create Limões.
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