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The exhibition 32 artistas de las Américas was held in Bogotá from February 7–17, 1949. The show was one of the cultural activities promoted by the Visual Arts Unit of the Cultural Affairs Department of the Pan American Union/General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) [the successor organization], coordinated by the Cuban critic José Gómez Sicre. The exhibition was made up of works by thirty-two American visual artists from public and private collections in the United States, including seventeen works from the collection of MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York. The show was presented at the Museo Nacional, which was a part of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. At the time, the painter Alejandro Obregón was director of the Escuela de Bellas Artes.


This document is a record of the exhibition in Colombia entitled 32 artistas de las Américas, organized by the Organization of American States (OAS) for the purpose of disseminating the work of some artists throughout the continent. The historical background of the exhibition was the foundation of the OAS in Bogotá (1948), and the cultural ambience of the postwar period, influenced by the Cold War. In this regard, the document shows how one of the objectives to be pursued in the exhibition was presenting the Americas as a favorable place both for the creation of art and for freedom.


This exhibition was one of the first temporary exhibitions of international art held at the new headquarters of the Museo Nacional of Colombia, which had been just moved (in 1948) to the Panóptico building—the former Central Penitentiary of Cundinamarca. This was where the works of artists from fourteen American countries were shown, including the Argentine Emilio Pettoruti; the Brazilian Cândido Portinari; and the Mexicans José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and Rufino Tamayo.  


By country, the participation in 32 artistas de las Américas was as follows: Argentina (Horacio Butler, Alfredo Guido, and Pettoruti); Bolivia (Roberto Berdecio); Brazil (Percy Deane, Alberto Da Veiga Guignard, Lasar Segall, and Portinari); Chile (Israel Roa); Colombia (Luis Alberto Acuña and Gonzalo Ariza); Cuba (Cundo Bermúdez, Mario Carreño, Luis Martínez Pedro, and Amelia Peláez); Ecuador (Eduardo Kingman); United States (Stuart Davis, Arthur G. Dove, and Karl Zerbe); Guatemala (Carlos Mérida); Haiti (Gabriel Alix and Philomé Obin); Mexico (José Chávez Morado, Orozco, Rivera, and Tamayo); Nicaragua (Rodrigo Peñalba); Uruguay (Pedro Figari and Joaquín Torres-García); and Venezuela (Mateo Manaure, Alejandro Otero, and Héctor Poleo).

Antonio Ochoa Flórez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Horacio Sicre, Fort Myers, Fla.