This 1971 text appeared in a Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo, in which Traba wrote a weekly column; her commentary captures a snapshot of the middle stage of Beatriz González’s career. At that time, she was an accomplished artist recognized internationally for her tongue-in-cheek representations of Colombian visual culture, incorporating regional (political, religious, and art historical) subjects sourced from photographs published in Colombia’s popular press. Throughout the early 1970s, González embarked on her exploration of alternative canvases, applying paint to home furnishings (beds, tables, vanities, and curtains). The author’s mention of her furniture works foretells a transition from the canvas to the object. In the following years, the Colombian artist began to focus primarily on three-dimensional works.
Beatriz González (b. 1938) is a Bogotá-based Colombian artist. Her career spans six decades—from the early 1960s to the present—and includes painting, drawing, and screenprinting, often incorporating curtains, recycled furniture, and everyday objects. González refers to herself as a “provincial” artist, and appropriates and reinterprets images from mass-media and, in some of her earlier works, well-known European artworks; therefore she has often been associated with the Pop Art movement, a position that she overtly rejects. Her work, indeed, does not deal with consumer culture, but is a chronicle of Colombia’s dreadful history (including an interminable civil war that began in 1948) as well as an investigation of the taste of the middle class, especially for European artworks. Her production exposes the uneven relationship between her own country and the hegemonic centers of both cultural and artistic production, Europe and the United States, revealing a legacy of colonialism. Besides her expansive artistic oeuvre, González has worked as a curator, museum educator, and art writer.
Bogotá-based Marta Traba (b. 1923, Buenos Aires; d. 1983, Madrid) was an Argentine cultural critic and art historian from the 1950s to the 1960s. She began her career writing for Ver y Estimar, the art magazine founded by the director of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, Jorge Romero Brest. During the early years of her career, Traba championed Modernism in an effort to unify Latin American artists and to legitimize their work on the international scene. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, she adopted leftist ideologies following her political exile from Colombia. In 1968, because of her open opposition to the government of president Carlos Lleras Restrepo, she was forced into exile and lived in Montevideo, Caracas, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Washington, DC, and Paris, teaching at local universities and writing art criticism. At that time, Traba published a key book: Dos décadas vulnerables en las artes plásticas latinoamericanas, 1950–1970, which presents the theory of “art of resistance.” She quickly became critical of “cultural imperialism,” thereby encouraging artists to anchor their production within their country of origin. She was distrustful of experimental art, such as Pop Art, happenings, and Conceptual art, and considered them uncritical imports from the United States. As a result of her ongoing advocacy, Traba increased international awareness of Latin American artworks and artists who embraced their regional specificities and resisted universal aestheticism. One such artist was Beatriz González, who, incidentally, was an art history student of Traba’s at the Universidad de los Andes from 1959 to 1962.