The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In 1926, Ricardo Rendón produced a series of caricatures for “El jardín de los poetas” [The Garden of the Poets], a section of the Suplemento literario ilustrado [Illustrated Literary Supplement] of the Bogotá newspaper El Espectador. The series featured several important Colombian poets, each of whom was represented as an animal. On September 16 Guillermo Valencia was depicted as a pelican. A week later, on September 23, León De Greiff was shown as a lion on the cover of the supplement. In this issue, the poet and critic Luis Vidales Jaramillo was portrayed as a toad. The drawing, rendered in clear, sharp lines, shows the creature wearing a tie, a shirt collar, and a hat, smoking a long pipe, all of which were typical accoutrements favored by Vidales, who in those days, like Rendón, enjoyed an intellectual lifestyle and moved in literary circles in cafés in Bogotá. The caricature appeared above the poem “A Luis Tejada. Elegía humorística” [To Luis Tejada. A Humorous Elegy], one of Vidales’ best-known works and the centerpiece of Suenan Timbres [Bells are Ringing], which had recently been published.
This caricature illustrates Bogotá’s lively intellectual environment in the 1920s; poets, caricaturists, critics, men of letters, and artists gathered to discuss the aesthetic innovations of the period, and to define the role of art and literature in the country’s immediate future. Ricardo Rendón was one of the most important people involved in the development of new forms of expression. His caricatures provide an eyewitness account of the birth of modernism in Colombian art. At the time when he drew this caricature, both he and Vidales were part of the group called Los Nuevos [The New Ones], an eclectic group that advocated the acceptance of avant-garde ideas in literature and the arts. In due course, Vidales became one of the most respected art critics in the country, and wrote approvingly of the work of several artists who shaped the modernist movement in Colombia: Edgar Negret (b. 1920), Alejandro Obregón (1920–1992), and Fernando Botero (b. 1932).
This caricature reportedly angered Vidales and prompted many intellectuals to make fun of him, applauding Rendón’s witty decision to compare the poet to a toad because of his light complexion and short stature. When the caricaturist ran into Vidales in a café, he explained himself in whimsical rhyme by saying “Poeta, no se me ponga a tiro de escopeta” [Poet, don’t shoot me]. Vidales hooked Rendón around the neck with the crook of his cane and drew him closer, saying: “Rendón, no se me ponga a tiro de bastón” [Rendón, don’t let me shoot you with my cane]. He then proceeded to tell Rendón what he would say in his own defense until his dying day: the poet Walt Whitman (1819–1892), who was greatly admired by the group, had once stated that the toad was God’s most perfect creature.