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In this text, Colombian art critic Eduardo Serrano—curator of the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá—presents the exhibition Arte y Política held at that institution in 1974. Serrano asserts that politics is more than a recurring theme in the work of Latin American artists; instead, it is a category in its own right that “identifies our artwork around the world.” He argues that the relationship between art and politics has been implicit to the work of Colombian artists from the time of independence through the present (1974). Indeed, in that period so much political art was produced that the show’s organizers decided to select works “made in studios that focus exclusively on the political function of art.” In chronological order, the author mentions the artists in the show, briefly describing their contribution to the theme of politics. Participating artists included Pedro José Figueroa, Luis García Hevia, Ricardo Rendón, Pedro Nel Gómez, Débora Arango, Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo, Alipio Jaramillo, Marco Ospina, Luis Fernando Robles, Alejandro Obregón, Carlos Granada Arango, Diego Arango, Nirma Zárate, Luis Paz, Augusto Rendón, and Clemencia Lucena.


This document posits that the widespread discussion on art and its political function, a discussion that artists regularly engage in, can be exhibited, debated, and critically analyzed in the context of an art show. Eduardo Serrano (b. 1939), the curator of this exhibition, points out how difficult it is to include the wide range of approaches to politics that artists, both past and present, have embraced. For that reason, he decided to include only graphic works by contemporary artists “committed” to the social function of art. One odd piece of information appears at the end of the catalogue: the artists in Taller 4 Rojo —Nirma Zárate (1936–1999), Diego Arango (b. 1942) and Carlos Granada Arango (b. 1933), Jorge Mora, along with Italian Umberto Giangrandi (b. 1942)—stated that they were displeased that their work had been included in what they considered an incoherent exhibition. 


The exhibition Arte y Política was held from October 22 to November 22, 1974 at the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá. It was organized jointly by the museum curator Eduardo Serrano, literary and art critic Darío Ruiz Gómez (b. 1936), and painter Amalia Iriarte (b. 1942). The catalogue, which was printed on newspaper-quality paper and featured red headlines, was striking; it resembled a leftist newspaper of the time. Ruiz Gómez and Serrano were in charge of  presenting the exhibition.


Nineteen seventy-four was a politically decisive year since it marked the end of the last four-year term of the National Front coalition. On January 17 of that year, after a promotional campaign in various newspapers with nationwide circulation, the urban guerrilla group M-19 stole Bolívar’s sword from the Museo de la Quinta de Bolívar in Bogotá. Just days later, the first issue of the Revista Alternativa. Atreverse a pensar es empezar a luchar—a journal of counter-information that brought together a number of leftist tendencies—was published. During the magazine’s first year, the aforementioned Taller 4 Rojo collective was in charge of the magazine’s art. Founded in 1971, the aim of that collective—like many artists, printmakers, intellectuals, and leaders of social movements—was to broaden the spectrum of socially committed art.

María Sol Barón
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Darío Ruiz Gómez, Medellín, Colombia.
Courtesy of Eduardo Serrano Rueda, Bogotá, Colombia.
Reproduced with permission of Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia