In 1947, the critic and poet Jorge Gaitán Durán (1924–1962) was one of the most promising poets and intellectuals in Colombia. He had studied law at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, and often wrote about art exhibitions and aesthetic matters. Early that year he and the critic Luis Vidales Jaramillo (1900–1990) organized the Salón de Artistas Jóvenes [Young Artists’ Salon], an event that introduced the work of many Colombian masters in the field of modern art, most notably Edgar Negret (b. 1920) and Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar (1923–2004).
In this article, Gaitán Durán wrote about Negret, who was twenty-eight years old at the time and was preparing to take a trip to Europe (France and Spain), and the United States. Colombian critics had been introduced to Negret’s work barely two years earlier, and he was beginning to be regarded as one of the country’s most promising young artists working in a modern style. Negret had recently met the Spanish sculptor Jorge de Oteiza (1908–2003) at the latter’s ceramics class at the Universidad del Cauca. Oteiza introduced Negret to modern thinking on the subject of space, which profoundly influenced the latter’s subsequent work as he developed into one of the most distinguished Latin American sculptors of the late twentieth century. This critic’s opinions on Negret’s work in the late 1940s clearly indicate an open mind and an antiacademic attitude that favored a renewal of artistic traditions.
This article appeared in the Revista de las Indias [Indies Magazine] (published by the Ministry of Education), in a section, “Visual Arts” that featured discussions on painting, sculpture, theater, and music. It is interesting to note that an official magazine saw fit to support modern art movements and invite a critic who was barely twenty-three years old at the time to write about abstract art. This demonstrates that in the 1940s, artists in Colombia were beginning to explore the languages of modern art.