This article evidences the support for Modern art in Colombia in the fifties, the decade during which it took hold in the country. A professional art critic, Walter Engel (1908-2005) praises the private initiative of Cecilia Ospina de Gómez, who opened “El Caballito” gallery in 1956. In his opinion, both the artists invited to participate in the first exhibition at the gallery and the works they exhibited provide resounding evidence of the type of work that the new gallery will advocate. Artists like Enrique Grau (1920-2004), Fernando Botero (b. 1932), Alejandro Obregón (1920-1992), and Guillermo Wiedemann (1905-1969), all of whom were engaged in exploring Modern visual languages, confirm the gallery’s intent.
This article was published in the first issue of the magazine Plástica, directed by artist Judith Márquez (1925–1994), a journal dedicated to the aesthetic problems surrounding the advent of avant-garde art in Colombia. As this publication makes clear, this period witnessed a convergence of critics, artists, and editors, all of whom were instrumental to building the Colombian art scene.
In the mid-fifties, Bogotá, a city once indifferent to Modern art, woke up to the upheaval its formulations entailed. The art criticism of the day largely supported Modern art, thanks in part to foreign critics who resided in Colombia such as Polish-born Casimiro Eiger (1911–1987) and Vienna-born Walter Engel. Similarly, a few galleries that showed new art had opened. Eiger himself directed “El Callejón” gallery, which was located less than ten blocks from spaces like Galerías de Arte and the Biblioteca Nacional.