The question that Arturo Bastidas asks in this document—What is Pop Art?—was prompted by a report on the XX Salón de Mayo [Twentieth May Salon], held in Paris, that was published in the Colombian magazine La Nueva Prensa [The New Press] on June 16, 1964. In that report, the journalist Alba Lucía Ángel (b. 1939) discusses the death of abstract art and the emergence and establishment of figurative painting, a style that includes Pop Art and Surrealism, the latest avant-garde trends in North American and European art. The magazine answers that question by referring to items from everyday life (“posters, bills, bottle labels or caps, railway or road signs, magazine photos combined with cigarette packs, cartoon characters, caricatures, and comics”) that were commonly used in the wide range of works that were considered Pop Art. But the magazine also acknowledges the difficulty of agreeing on a specific definition.
The North American and European artists mentioned, and the fourteen images that were published in the magazine were among the first Pop Art referents to which the Colombian public was exposed. A few years later, several Colombian artists began experimenting with Pop Art, including Santiago Cárdenas (b. 1937), Beatriz González (b. 1938), and Álvaro Barrios (b. 1945). The first reference to Pop Art in Colombia appeared in the article “Pintura prosaica” [Prosaic Painting] that was published in the magazine Life en Español (May 25, 1964).
It is possible that the reply that appears in this document, signed with the initials LNP—which refer to La Nueva Prensa—could have been written by the Argentine critic and art historian Marta Traba (1923–1983), who was deeply involved in the visual arts editorials of the magazine in the early 1960s. La Nueva Prensa was managed by the journalist Alberto Zalamea (1926?2011), who was Traba’s husband at the time.