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This essay, written by the Colombian attorney and philosopher Francisco Posada, is divided into nine parts: (i) an untitled introduction; (ii) “Colonial Feudalism”; (iii) “Realism and Social Conflict”; (iv) “Painting”; (v) “The Current Situation”; (vi) “Current Literature”; (vii) “The nadaístas [Nothing-ists]”; (viii) “Other Arts”; and (ix) “Art and Revolution.” Posada criticizes the views of certain Colombian intellectuals who claim that Colombian art derived or is copied from foreigners. He disagrees with intellectuals who eschew any scientific review of Colombian culture, preferring to compare it to European culture. Though Posada focuses on the literary situation, he does not ignore the visual arts, harshly criticizing nineteenth-century landscapists and dismissing early twentieth-century portrait painters. He praises the work of Andrés de Santa María, who rejected the “false realism” of the nineteenth century, and diminishes Colombian muralism by comparing it to Mexican muralism. Posada approves of the “realist intention” of artists such as Luis Ángel Rengifo (1906–1986) or Carlos Correa (1912–1985), as compared to the “false realism” of turn-of-the-century and nineteenth-century landscape and portrait artists.


Significant changes took place in Colombian art during the 1960s, including: the rise to fame of Fernando Botero (b. 1932), Alejandro Obregón (1920–1992), and the Panamanian artist Enrique Grau (1920–2004) who all in their day were associated with expressionist figuration; the establishment of Abstract Expressionism; the first appearance of geometric abstraction, the first politically active artists, and the artists who would later be involved with the birth of Conceptualism in Colombia.


Against this backdrop, Francisco Posada published his essay “Ideas sobre la cultura nacional y el arte realista” [Thoughts on Colombian Culture and Realist Art] (January–February 1965). It was a time of new artistic movements and passionate discussions on the “national” qualities of Colombian art. At the time, nationalists, and indigenists had been buried under Marta Traba’s relentless critique. Posada disagreed with some of Traba’s ideas (in the chapter “Art and Revolution” he denies her claim that “a change in social structure inevitably leads to reactionary artistic forms.”) And, contrary to the tradition that equated national identity with indigenist and nationalist tradition (Traba’s essential antithesis), Posada spoke of realism as an option “in direct relationship to humanism” that as distinct from classical realism, spawns “those who loyally and lucidly see their time and their moment in universal terms, drawing from the best of both traditional and new ideas.”


Francisco Posada (1934?1970) studied law at the University of Rosario and philosophy at the National University of Colombia, both of which were in Bogotá. He translated several essays on philosophy by Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961). He authored a number of books, including Colombia: violencia y subdesarrollo [Colombia: Violence and Underdevelopment] (Bogotá: Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1969).

Taller de Historia Crítica (U.N.): Halim Badui
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Dina Moscovici, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil