This article is a valuable source of pictorial information about the artist Enrique Grau (1920–2004) because it refers to the work he was producing in 1962, which was a key period in his career.
In 1962, when this article was published, Grau’s La gran bañista [The Great Bather] received the first honorable mention for painting at the National Salon. The subject of the painting was a plump, full female figure, which became his chosen subject in the next few years. This article analyzes these new subjects in artistic and technical terms, tracing the well-known Colombian artist’s career from a critical perspective.
In September of that same year, Grau assembled twenty-five of his paintings, each one featuring the subject mentioned above, and exhibited them at the Gregorio Vásquez Salon at the National Library in Bogotá. That was the exhibition that Marta Traba (1923–1983) refers to in this article. Traba’s article is an excellent resource for the researcher who is interested in Grau’s work, because it reveals the new course taken by the artist in the 1960s. Grau had actually tried to explore a nonfigurative language in the late 1950s, but this exhibition confirms his commitment to figurative and anecdotal painting, which was what defined his work as he became one of the most significant exponents of modern art in Colombia.
It should be noted that Traba was known as a great promoter of modernism in Colombia. This article thus records the relationship that existed between an erudite, active critic and the creative concerns of the artists of the period in question.
Grau was born in Cartagena de Indias and vaulted into the art world at the Primer Salón Nacional [First National Salon] in 1940, where his Mulata cartagenera [Mulatta from Cartagena] received a mention. This led to a grant from the Colombian government that allowed him to study at the Art Students League in New York. Grau perfected his skill and knowledge there, and in Florence, Italy, where he spent a long time during the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s his work was considered to be one of the defining expressions of Colombian modern art. He returned to New York in the 1980s and began to produce sculpture, the final language he explored during his long career.