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The anonymous author of this article discusses the pessimism prevalent in a milieu dedicated to “gathering gold” and “displaying its purchasing power.” While the author accepts that economic wellbeing is necessary “for the practice of virtue,” he criticizes the drive to accumulate wealth, “turning these lands into an unbearably boring madhouse.” He bemoans the fact that “here those with money take precedent over men worthy in heart and in mind […] they are the idols, as well as the leaders, of the masses.” The author trusted that the scheduled painting and sculpture exhibition would open “the [gates of] the magnificent palace of art to youth […] bursting with noble ideals and longings.” In August 1922, the city of Bogotá first came into contact with French Modern art thanks to a controversial exhibition that, in October of that year, would reach the galleries of the Club Unión in Medellín. The show would include works by Gleitzes, Picabia, André Lothe, as well as a painting by Picasso.


While idealizing art and its noble purpose of furthering beauty, this text voices the need for a society in the process of modernization and economic expansion—like the society of Medellín at the time—to provide artistic representations with which people could identify.


The twenties, which are known as the years of the “dance of the millions,” witnessed an economic boom in the Department of Antioquia based on coffee growing and incipient industrialization. Nine months before the Exposición de Artistas Franceses was held in Medellín (1922), the magazine Cyrano (whose slogan was “for national art”) enthusiastically welcomed an art show destined to restoring the “noble ideals” of art in the eyes of youth.


The participants in that exhibition would, the author asserts, express “[…] the unrivaled treasures of our native beauty, from our heroic epics to our most humble and discreet corner; […] it is our hope that they have understood that the local, not the foreign, is the true spring of inspiration.”

Santiago Londoño Vélez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia