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In the unsigned introduction to this catalogue, the writer describes the Salón Nacional de Arte Moderno (Museo Nacional de Colombia, in Bogotá, 1949). The Salón is a grouping of recent works by artists who were the leaders of the cultural vanguard at the time. The article maintains that it is impossible to encumber a work with a qualitative evaluation, whether good or bad, based on whether it is “modern” or “old.” However, the writer does point out the unmistakable guidelines, at any given historical time, that determine forms of expression in terms of space and time. The argument is presented that the purpose of the epithet “modern”—included in the name of the exhibition—is to let the public know that it is “anything that is not academic or a mediocre imitation of the old masters.” Therefore, the text suggests an understanding of art that seeks to create models other than those established both by the great masters and by the laws of nature. The writer concludes by explaining that the Salón includes a diversity of works that take into account the prospects of modernity. The works shown also address “the current spiritual outlook of our people, which is weighed down at this time by threats.”
This text (1949) is attributed to the artist Alejandro Obregón, who served as the main organizer of group exhibitions at the Museo Nacional de Colombia from 1948 to 1949. Exhibitions he organized included the Salón de los 26, the Salón de los 6, and the show 32 Artistas de las Américas. The importance of the text lies in its evident interest in proposing a reading of “the modern,” specifically, in the Colombian visual arts. Regarding the catalogue, the writer is [evidently] an artist who uses that same concept as a yardstick for taking the measure of the work of his colleagues. Since the participants selected tended to represent a new paradigm, the exhibition included young artists who were beginning to develop ideas about rupture that were consolidated in the 1950s. Side by side with these young artists were those of the prior generation, artists whose heyday was during the 1930s and 1940s, when Latin Americanism prevailed. This mix could also be observed at the Exposición de Pintores y Escultores Jóvenes de Colombia (Museo Nacional de Colombia, April 1947), the Exposición de Pintura Contemporánea (Museo Nacional de Colombia, October 1948), and at the Salón de los 26 (Museo Nacional de Colombia, October 1948).
This text was published in November 1949 for the catalogue of the Salón Nacional de Arte Moderno held at the Museo Nacional de Colombia that same month. Participants in that exhibition were: Julio Abril (1912–79), Luis Alberto Acuña (1904–84), Alberto Arboleda (1925–2011), Horacio Betancourt, Hernando Escobar, Julio Fajardo, Enrique Grau (1920–2004), Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–70), Alipio Jaramillo (1913–99), Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984), Erwin Kraus (1911?2000), Adriano Moreno, Hugo Martínez, Alonso Neira, Marco Ospina (1912–83), Alejandro Obregón (1920–92), Rómulo Rozo (1899–1964), Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar (1923–2004), Rafael Sáenz, Guillermo Silva Santamaría, Lucy Tejada (1920–2011), Hernando Tejada (1920–98), Antonio Valencia, and Guillermo Wiedemann (1905–69).