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The critic and art historian Álvaro Medina presents an overview and analysis of Colombian sculpture of the 1930s. This is the third chapter of his book El arte colombiano de los años veinte y treinta, which as suggested by its title, provides an analysis of the artwork of those two decades. Medina introduces the text by describing the sculptural wasteland of the 1920s, so much under the influence of the academy. However, he acknowledges that during that period, there were artists who were opening the way for change in the following decade. After explaining the significance of the sculpture exhibition in the Salón de 1931, the critic discusses in detail the development of each of the artists and works included in the “reorientation” that happened in sculpture during the 1930s. His list is comprised of Luis Alberto Acuña, José Domingo Rodríguez, José Ramón Montejo, Ramón Barba, Josefina Albarracín, and Hena Rodríguez. Moreover, Medina reviews in detail the experimental process of each artist, in terms of materials and the themes addressed. At the same time, the writer is careful to point out the influences that arose from the idea of modernity and industrialization.


In the preface to his book El arte colombiano de los años veinte y treinta (1995), the art historian and critic Álvaro Medina (b. 1942) states that “at first sight,” this book takes up where his last book left off. The earlier book, Procesos del arte en Colombia (1978), concentrated on the study of art created in Colombia between 1899 and 1928. “It is a continuation to the extent that it analyzes the artwork of the next generation and covers the period from 1922 to 1940.” Through both publications, Medina made a significant contribution to the history of Colombian art and assembled stories from an extensive period based on his study of documents and various other sources. These books show the importance of the context (political, cultural, economic, etc.) from which the forms of artistic expression arise.


“La reorientación del movimiento escultórico” is the title of the chapter reviewed in this document. Beyond setting forth the author’s perspective, this text cites statements made by several authoritative critics of the period, including Germán Arciniegas (1900–99) and Gustavo Santos Montejo (1892–1967). These two commented on and celebrated the artistic transformations shown in the sculptural work being made at the time. Both their texts emphasize the presence of Rómulo Rozo (1899–1964) as a great catalyst for change, along with the fortunate contributions by the artists included by Medina in his overview. Medina presents the sculpture of the 1930s as a rupture in which the idea of modern art in Colombia took hold. Moreover, it is interesting to note the writer’s constant references to industrialization and its relationship to the forms of artistic expression.


In Colombia, the 1930s and its sculpture were particularly marked by nationalism; both promoted the idea of “our own,” reflected in the themes represented by the artists. During the decade there arose a group called Bachué (in homage to the female Chibcha deity); this was a collective of artists and intellectuals whose ideas promoted change. As a group, they invited the art world to move away from academicism and imitation of European art, in pursuit of an authentic Colombian art [see doc. no. 1074707].

Erika Martínez Cuervo
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
© Álvaro Medina, Bogotá, Colombia.
Reproduced with permission of Ministerio de Cultura, Bogotá, República de Colombia