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    Arte y mitología / Marta Traba
    El Tiempo (Bogotá, Colombia). -- Sep. 25, 1957
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    Traba, Marta. "Arte y mitología." Intermedio [El Tiempo] (Bogotá), September 25, 1957.

Argentine critic Marta Traba begins this article by stating that a country must confront its “artistic mythology” by revising and overcoming established concepts and values in order to “lay the basis for solid and worthy art” and to educate the public by means of aesthetic categories. Traba suggests that those concepts and values are the result of a “familial sort of commitment” common to small communities and that, to a certain extent, they paralyze the development of critical thought. Traba asserts that aesthetic judgment—unhindered by commitment or dependency on any ideology—is the only thing that attests to true concern with the deficiencies and accomplishments innate to a work of art. After this introduction, Traba discusses a show by Colombian artist Carlos Correa at El Callejón gallery in Bogotá. She deems the works on exhibit careless and sloppy; their use of color is dissonant and unfortunate. She concludes that the work “not only falters, but vanishes entirely under the weight of its own fallacy.” Traba claims that this exhibition sheds light on the public’s inability to critically consider a show whose “prestige is well established and unquestionable.” Finally, Traba returns to the need to bring down mythologies by teaching the public how to assess and analyze.


Argentine critic and art historian Marta Traba (1923–1983) arrived in Bogotá, where she resided for a time, in September 1954. The texts that she published in the local press and art magazines in the mid- and late fifties voice a critical discourse centered on the autonomy of the visual arts. Traba insisted on the need to separate artistic and critical production from other disciplines and discourses. She urged artists and critics to consider visual elements and aesthetic judgments the primordial means and end of artwork, as well as the factors that determine it.  

The concept of “artistic mythology” refers to values that have become commonplace over the course of history due to passive acceptance on the part of the public. Along with the discussion of the exhibition of works by Carlos Correa (1912–1985), the article’s lengthy introduction and categorical ideas on prestige in art attest to Traba’s concern with facilitating the public’s ability to assess and to analyze, as well as the responsibility of critics in this process. The article thus evidences Traba’s thinking about criticism, the role of the public with respect to artistic production, and the aestheticist approach characteristic of the 1950s. It also provides an example of how to discuss the work of an artist (Correa, in this case).


Intermedio, where this article appeared, was the name assumed by the Colombian daily El Tiempo from August 1955 to May 1957 pursuant to a censorship order issued by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, president of Colombia at the time. Other articles by Marta Traba published in Intermedio include: “Arte y realidad” [doc. no. 864609]; “El genio anti-servil” [doc. no. 1052760]; “Historias de islas” [doc. no.  855005]; and “Naturaleza: vocabulario de la realidad artística” [doc. no. 858558].

Nicolás Gómez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Fernando Zalamea Traba, Bogotá, Colombia.
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia