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    A propósito de Acebedo Bernal [sic] / Max. Grillo
    El Autonomista (Bogotá, Colombia). -- Oct. 15, 1899
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Grillo, Max. “A propósito de Acebedo Bernal.” El Autonomista (Bogotá, Colombia), October 15, 1899.

The Colombian poet Max Grillo claims that there is an aesthetic sense that is common to all the arts. In his opinion, to enjoy the visual arts, literature, or music, one must have the ability to feel and understand the emotions that are inherent to all of them. Those who can grasp beauty can experience it in any of those forms, and stimulating those emotions does not depend solely on an artist’s technical ability. After discussing a variety of artistic trends, Grillo stresses how important it is for painters to see the works of the great masters. These are Grillo’s introductory remarks about the work of the artist Ricardo Acevedo Bernal who, in his opinion, is a painter with great potential. However, this promising artist, whom Grillo believes is capable of transcending academic training, will only develop his art through exposure to those he calls the “Immortal Princes of Art.”


Max Grillo (1868–1949), an attorney, poet, diplomat, and senator, founded the Revista Gris [Gray Magazine] in 1892 in order to promote the innovative work of modernists in Colombia. He was also an important art critic.


In this article he expresses a view that had gained widespread support in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when people began to question traditional academic models. Grillo describes the role of aesthetics in painting, and claims that distinct from literature, in which the book is a vehicle that goes to the reader, the visual arts are experienced by viewers who must go to where the works are exhibited. According to him, that relationship creates the necessary foundation for the production of good art.  


At an aesthetic level, there is another key aspect involved: the sensitivity required to experience expressions of the spirit. Grillo appreciates that a work of art can suggest several different readings rather than limiting a viewer’s options to just one. His remarks imply a critique of works that seek to present a faithful copy of reality; that is, those that reveal the technical skill of the artist, but say nothing about his particular subjective interpretation. Grillo appreciates artists who take a different approach to light and color, which implies an appreciation of the Impressionists, who were considered antiacademic painters.


In Grillo’s opinion, very few Colombian artists are able to work with the modern aesthetic. He believes that Ricardo Acevedo Bernal (1867–1930) is one of them, and suggests that he should therefore seek to develop his talent and expand his horizons through exposure to the good art of the European masters. Acevedo Bernal, as it happens, died in Italy.

Ivonne Pini
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Hernando Salazar Patiño, Manizales, Colombia