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This article, written by the Spanish art critic Francisco Gil Tovar, discusses the Banco de la República Art Collection three years after it was founded. The article is divided into five brief sections, as follows: an introductory paragraph, “La colección en la actualidad” [The Current Collection], “Núcleo inicial para un museo” [Initial Basis for a Museum], “Tres disponibilidades reales” [Three Real Availabilities], “Es necesario enfocar” [It Is Necessary to Focus], and a final paragraph. There is a list of the Colombian and international artists who are represented in the collection. The article addresses the bank’s criteria for acquisitions, which was more concerned with supporting the artists who were invited to the Exhibition Salon at the Luis Ángel Arango Library than with obtaining representative works of art. In spite of the uneven quality of the works in the collection, the article nonetheless notes its potential as a basis for a modern art museum in Bogotá.
This document is relevant to the history of Colombian art because it provides information about the origin of one of the most important public art collections in the country. The Banco de la República Art Collection was in fact one of the first to assemble an inventory of local and foreign works of modern art. The critical opinions expressed in this article by Francisco Gil Tovar (b. 1923) describe the development of this collection during the first three years of its existence and document its close relationship with the Exhibition Salon at the Luis Ángel Arango Library, since the forty works of art that were acquired (through October 1960) reflect what had transpired and what had been exhibited at the Salon since it opened in November 1957.
As explained in the article, the collection was essentially the result of the Banco de la República policy of supporting the artists whose work was exhibited in the bank salon. This policy in turn led to an accumulation of works of uneven quality that were used, with no great pretensions, to decorate the offices in the Library. These circumstances notwithstanding, by 1960 it had become the most significant modern art collection in Colombia, and the Exhibition Salon was the closest thing to a modern art museum that existed in Bogotá. It provided a space where artists, agents, and critics gathered to discuss and experience the languages of modern art at exhibitions that were documented in catalogues and reported in articles published in the bank’s cultural magazine Boletín cultural y bibliográfico [Cultural and Bibliographical Bulletin], which was launched at the same time as the Library, the Exhibition Salon, and the collection. The article discussed here was published in that magazine.
For more information concerning this document, see “23 Pinturas colombianas, Colección de Arte, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango del Banco de la República”, Bogotá, Colombia. February 1963 [doc. no. 1129260].