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This article reports on the jury’s decision in the Dante Alighieri painting competition sponsored by the Italian Embassy in Colombia in1966. It also mentions the origins of the controversy that arose between the Italian Embassy’s representative, Giulio Corsini, and the jurors representing Colombia: the painter Enrique Grau, the Spanish gallery owner Alicia Baraibar, and the architect Guillermo Angulo. In the document, the above-mentioned jurors explain to the Italian representative that the current parameters used by critics to judge paintings have expanded to include additional considerations. They also insist that contrary to the diplomat’s understanding, inspiration involves creative freedom.
The disagreement between the jurors at the Dante Alighieri painting competition that was organized by the Italian Embassy in Colombia in 1966, as is mentioned in another document (see doc. no. 1092533, “El premio Dante Alighieri, otra obra llamada a suscitar problemas: El jurado del XVII censurado por no haber aceptado la obra de Bernardo Salcedo. Pero ahora… ¿qué vendrá?”), led to one of the major controversies of the 1960s in Colombia. The competition also conclusively proved that in Colombia, the traditional concept of two- and three-dimensional work was a thing of the past.
As shown in this document, the Italian Embassy’s representative in Colombia based his argument on conventional definitions, saying that the work submitted by Bernardo Salcedo (1939–2007) could not be considered a “painting,” and disputed the concept of inspiration. According to Corsini, Salcedo’s work, Dante 66, Lo que Dante nunca supo (Beatriz amaba el control de la natalidad) [Dante 66, What Dante Never Knew: Beatriz Loved Birth Control] (3) (1966), was not inspired by the life and work of the Italian writer and therefore did not follow the exhibition’s guidelines. The defense presented by the Colombian jurors with regard to the artist’s creative freedom was that creativity is about more than a literal portrayal, and that in fact, Salcedo did indeed take Alighieri’s work into account when he created his work. Salcedo, in his usual critical and humorous way, was referring to Beatrice’s barren love in La Divina Commedia with his use of a fertility symbol: the eggs he placed at the center of his work that bear no fruit in spite of the invocation of the little raised arm shown between them. Birth control was a hot topic in the 1960s as a result of the much-discussed problem of the world’s population explosion.