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Who really made the sea lions of Mar del Plata?

José Fioravanti is the author of the sea lions that adorn the most typical postcard of the city. But someone else is behind the play.

Art and Literature

When I was a girl, I spent my summers in   Mar del Plata  . My grandparents had a house there, and there we went with the family to take refuge on their beaches. Larger, I traded family for friends, and continued to visit their shores. Times changed, we grew up. The city changed, but there was a constant that remained always, and that is repeated among the memories of every tourist visiting  Mardel :  the photo with the sea lions on the Rambla.  

The most typical  Marplatense  postcard has one responsible, the one that appears in the official history: the sculptor  José Fioravanti . He was the creator of the work that would become a constitutive part of the city. However, over the years, it has been discovered that, behind his idea, there were other hands that gave life to sea lions.  Janez Anton Gruden , a Slavic immigrant, was the one who put his work to make the specimens.

A style of work

It turns out that at that time —1946 — it was common for foreigners to provide their labour to do this type of work, but they could not be listed as authors because they did not have the title that allowed them to sign them. Fioravanti, then, was really the one who projected this great work, but delegated it to Gruden, a professor of arithmetic, drawing and sculpture, who had arrived in Argentina in 1928 in search of a better future.

This form of work, which left Gruden and so many others anonymous, was normal at the time. In addition to the  sea lions , the Slavic sculptor carried out other works that were declared historical monuments. Material author and intellectual author: that's how we could define it. Gruden and Fioravanti, together, gave life to Mar del Plata's most photographed postcard, only one of them went down in history. To the other, we offer this little tribute.

Publication Date: 02/03/2020

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