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This chapter gathers texts in which the Colombian ecclesiastical authorities established their position with respect to Carlos Correa’s painting, La Anunciación [The Annunciation] (1941)—painting withdrawn from the II Salón Anual de Artistas Colombianos [Second Annual Colombian Artists Salon]—after being awarded the first prize at the III Salón in 1942. The Colombian Curia [then] created a committee to study the case. It was made up of three priests who were “experts in religious art,” who issued a lengthy report written from three perspectives: “artistic concept,” “pedagogical concept,” and “religious/moral concept.” As an artwork, the report states that the painting lacks “true pictorial drawing,” since the artist has an inadequate command of “oil painting technique.” The work also has “unpleasant contrasts” owing to the mix of colors and the use of brownish-gray tones. The negative criticism goes on to cite the deformation of the figures and the coloring of the main figure, which looks like the “deathly gray, damp, viscose paleness of a cadaver just starting to decay.” In terms of its “pedagogical concept,” the report criticizes the Ministry of Education, which is responsible for these national exhibitions. Exhibitions of this kind are visited by secondary and primary schools that expect to find “works that elevate, through their purifying beauty,” and not “obscene works rendered with bad technique, [that are] doubly harmful, educationally misleading and corruptive, through their wicked doctrine,” such as the case under analysis. Finally the “religious/doctrinal concept” refers to the Christian dogma of the Annunciation, represented offensively, in the opinion of the religious authority, with “obscene irreverence” in the painting. The report deems that the idea of changing the painting’s title is malicious in intent. The ecclesiastical experts asserted that this canvas was a caricature of the dogma, rendered by an artist with little artistic talent. In short, the committee requested that the authorities withdraw the painting and annul both the decision and the prize. The report vehemently recommends that actions be taken so that, in the future, the curias of the different Colombian cities “may inspect the works accepted into any public exhibition.” As backup for this request, the report refers to an article of the Concordat.
This document is a record of a major scandal that took place during the III Salón de Artistas Colombianos [Third Colombian Artists Salon], October 12 to November 12, 1942. La Anunciación (1941)—an oil painting by Carlos Correa (1912–85)—was the reason for the national debate about having represented a nude woman with dark skin, clearly pregnant, reclining next to a stained-glass window that shows the angel, [Gabriel, standing with Mary,] in the process of the annunciation. The painting was awarded the first prize at the event, though this time, under the title, “Desnudo” [Nude]. Under its original title, the painting had been withdrawn from the Salon held the prior year by order of the Minister of Education.
The Archdiocesan Curia of Bogotá requested that the work be withdrawn from the event (which was ultimately denied). Subsequently, the archbishop commissioned priests to issue opinions on its doctrinal condition. Once again, the Minister of Education in office at the time ordered the withdrawal of the work, five days after the opening of the Salon. An order was issued to assemble a new jury. This was around the start of the second presidential term (1942–45) of the liberal, Alfonso López Pumarejo (1886–1959), and his conservative opponents charged the new regime with awarding a prize to a sacrilegious painting.