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This catalogue was published by the Banco de la República of Colombia in February 1963 in conjunction with the exhibition of twenty-three paintings from the bank’s Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango art collection. The exhibition was held in the Colombian cities of Cúcuta and Bucaramanga. The catalogue asserts that the exhibition of artworks beyond the capital city is one of the aims of the Banco Central insofar as it is committed to preserving and spreading Colombian culture, particularly Colombian visual arts. In addition to an introduction that explains the aim of the show, the catalogue contains a photograph of each work on exhibit, a brief biography of each artist, and a list of works on display with author, title, technique, and dimensions. The catalogue includes the following Colombian artists: Alipio Jaramillo (1913-1999), David Manzur (b. 1929), Fernando Botero (b. 1932), Enrique Grau Araujo (1920-2004), and German-born artist Guillermo Wiedemann (1905-1969).
This catalogue, which was published in 1963, is the first to enumerate and to provide specific information on twenty-three pieces in the Banco de la República’s art collection. The collection had been started nearly six years earlier with four works of Modern art acquired by the Banco de la República pursuant to the 1957 edition of the Salón de Arte Moderno, which marked the opening of the exhibition hall housed at the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango.
By 1963, the bank had amassed a major collection of works through donations and purchases of pieces by artists invited to exhibit work in its hall. This document clearly shows that the collection was not based on any exclusive critical criteria. In its early years, the aim of the collection was to support the prevailing artistic languages in Colombia by means of an exhibition venue open to local and foreign artists. The catalogue indicates that the incipient collection contains work by artists both figurative and abstract, realist and expressionist; while representatives of different generations are included, most of the artists in the collection are Colombian. The collection does vary, however, in terms of quality and style. When this catalogue was published, the Banco de la República had in its possession the most important institutional collection of Modern art in Bogotá. Indeed, some critics—like Francisco Gil Tovar (b. 1923), a Spanish critic who lives in Colombia—believed that it could serve as the seed of a museum of Modern art in Bogotá.
Veintitrés pinturas colombianas was the first touring show organized by the Banco de la República. Pursuant to it, these paintings and other works from the collection would travel to different Colombian cities (Pereira and Ibagué, among others) in an effort to demonstrate the activities taking place at the exhibition hall of the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango in Bogotá, which was on the way to becoming one of the most important art venues in the country.
Related documents include: “Salón de Arte Moderno” [doc. no. 1129243] and “La colección de pinturas de la biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, núcleo inicial para un posible museo de arte moderno” [doc. no. 1131419].