Coltejer, the textile firm, which at the time was among the oldest and most powerful companies in Colombia, sponsored four art Biennials in Medellín in 1968, 1970, 1972, and 1980. These events had a significant social and artistic impact, and helped launch avant-garde movements such as Conceptualism, Systems Art, Body Art, Happenings, and Installations. The 3rd Biennial was arranged in four major categories: Figurative Art, Non-Figurative Art, Technical and Scientific Art, and Conceptual Art.
This document clearly expresses the mentality that prompted the company to promote and finance a modernizing event of this nature, which had an impact on artistic production and the art market at local and national levels. Eventually, however, the project was discontinued for a variety of reasons, including financial difficulties the company increasingly found itself facing.
With the Biennial, the city of Medellín followed international trends by encouraging the ideal of updating “Colombian art,” legitimizing modernist ambitions through exposure to contemporary trends, and “educating” the masses. These and similar objectives contributed to the creation of several Biennials all over Latin America. Most of them enjoyed a relatively brief existence, with the notable exception of the Sao Paulo Biennial which has been active since it was started in 1951.