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    Garay Celeita, Alejandro, 1983-
    El campo artístico colombiano en el Salón de Arte de 1910
    Historia Crítica: Revista del Departamento de Historia de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia). -- Jul.-Dic., 2006
    p. 302-333
    Journal article – Essays
    Garay Celeita, Alejandro. "El campo artístico colombiano en el Salón de Arte de 1910." Historia Crítica: Revista del Departamento de historia de la facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia), (July- December, 2006): 302- 333.

In this article, the [art] historian Alejandro Garay Celeita examines the Exposición del Centenario de 1910, particularly the Salón de Arte, to determine how the visual arts related to the hypothesis: “the nation underlies the celebrations.” Therefore we can see the beginning processes leading to autonomy of the arts in Colombia; this concept is developed based on the “theory of fields” proposed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Garay starts the article with a brief overview of prior salons from 1886 to 1904. He continues by setting forth the “theory of fields,” using it to define the Colombian field of the arts. Finally, the writer does a detailed analysis of the Salón de Arte of 1910, considering aspects such as the prevailing academic art language and the controversy over modern art trends. He also covers the predominant genres, the technical execution of the works, the participating artists, the prizes and honorable mentions awarded by the jury, and the role of the critic with respect to the evaluation and understanding of the works.


In the early twentieth century, Colombian art followed the academic precepts derived from the artists’ close ties with the French and Spanish traditions. That would include correct representation, careful drawing, and proper imitation of nature, all serving as the definitive aesthetic values. These were values associated with the plan of a nation that would hegemonically defend conservative ideology. As such, it favored making use of art to support political and religious principles; this was evident at exhibitions and official events.


In 1910, Andrés de Santa María (1860–1945) organized the Salón de Arte at the Exposición del Centenario, which commemorated the declaration of independence in Colombia in 1810. The clash between the academic tradition and modern art languages—which Santa María himself had introduced among his European interests—was difficult. However, it was briskly resolved in favor of tradition since this was more in keeping with the political interests of the exhibition. The article analyzes in detail the complexity of the event, explaining the role of the artists, the critics, the official institutions, and the public in aesthetic disputes and with regard to the actual work produced in that period. 


The writer, Alejandro Garay (b. 1983), chose an interdisciplinary approach, basing this article on the monograph and related research he had done for his history degree. In this regard, there are philosophical, historical, and sociological references that enrich his analysis. Moreover, the underlying research required rigorous dedication, since there were very few articles about the salons organized in the early twentieth century. As in this case, any articles that exist show a painstaking search for primary sources in periodical publications and archives.

Camilo Sarmiento Jaramillo
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Alejandro Garay Celeita, Bogotá, Colombia