Venezuela's President Attacks Elitism

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Tue Apr 24 12:20:48 MDT 2001

April 24, 2001 


Venezuela's President Attacks Elitism, and Museum Founder Is a Casualty

ARACAS, Venezuela, April 20 -- The museum she built from scratch and
directed for more than 25 years continues to bear her name and
imprint, at least for the moment. But Sofía Imber herself has become
the most prominent victim and symbol of the "cultural revolution" that
President Hugo Chávez has unleashed as part of his campaign to free
Venezuela from a "rancid oligarchy."

Ms. Imber, 76, an art critic, founded the Caracas Museum of
Contemporary Art in 1971 in a garage and made it into one Latin
America's most admired arts institutions, with a strong and
wide-ranging collection that includes major works by Picasso, Braque,
Botero, Bacon, Chagall, Kandinsky and Rauschenberg. But somewhere
along the line she ran afoul of Mr. Chávez, a left-wing populist who
took power in 1999 with ideas of his own about the proper role of the

"Culture has become elitist as a result of being managed by elites,"
he complained in January on a weekly radio program of which he is
host. "Princes, kings, heirs, families took over institutions,
institutions that have cost the state millions and millions. They
wanted to do whatever they wanted. They thought they were autonomous
governments, principalities."  


Cultural affairs in this oil-rich nation of 24 million people are
supervised by the same ministry that is responsible for education and
sports. Last year Mr. Chávez made Manuel Espinoza, 64, a former
Communist Party member and painter whose work has been exhibited,
among other places, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the country's
top cultural official by appointing him director of the National
Council of Culture.

cont'd. at:

les schaffer

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