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    Tema 1: nacimiento del arte / Marta Traba
    [5] leaves
    Typed sheet – Essays

    Traba, Marta. "Tema 1: nacimiento del arte." 1957. Typed manuscript. Archivo Privado de Beatriz González, Bogotá, Colombia.


This document is an excerpt from the first chapter of Curso de historia del arte [Art History Course] (broadcast by Radiotelevisora Nacional de Colombia [Colombian National Radio Television], 1957–58), the television series that was directed and presented by Marta Traba. The critic and art historian introduces the series of programs and explains that the episodes will not unfold sequentially but will each tell a particular story. Traba then goes on to discuss specific historical and formal aspects of prehistoric art, focusing on the cave paintings of Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France. She explains mankind’s transition from Neanderthal to Homo sapiens in terms of its relationship to the natural world and the magical purpose associated with the animals painted on cave walls. Traba explains how prehistoric man created these paintings “with an ever-present desire to increase his power of expression.” She also discusses the depictions of pregnant women carved into rocks during the Paleolithic, fast-forwarding from there into the future to mention the aboriginal drawings in Arnhem, Australia. She concludes that the spirit that inspired those forms of expression should be thought of as “neither more nor less primitive than the spirit of civilized mankind that we are proud to know and share.”      


Shortly after she arrived and settled in Colombia in 1954, the Argentine art critic Marta Traba (1923–1983) was hired by the Colombian broadcasting company Radiotelevisora Nacional de Colombia as an on-air presenter of television programs about art history and local artists and their work. From 1954 to 1958, Traba presented the following programs: El museo imaginario [The Imaginary Museum], Una visita a los museos [A Visit to the Museums], El ABC del arte moderno [The ABC of Modern Art], and Curso de historia del arte [Art History Course]. In 1966 she presented Puntos de vista [Points of View], and in about 1983, Historia del arte moderno contada desde Bogotá [Modern Art History as Told From Bogotá]. This document is an excerpt from a collection of copies of the scripts for the program Curso de Historia del Arte—which consisted of thirty-nine episodes that aired between 1957 and 1958, as follows: Nacimiento del arte [The Birth of Art], Akhen-Atón [Akhenaten], Persépolis [Persepolis], Cnossos [Knossos], Olimpia [Olympia], Atenas [Athens], Elche, Suplemento de Semana Santa: Arte Religioso Moderno [Holy Week Supplement: Modern Religious Art], Tarquinia, Roma [Rome], Pompeya [Pompeii], Fayoum, Palmira [Palmyra], Ravena [Ravenna], Moscú [Moscow], Autun y Vezelay [Autun and Vezelay], Chartres, Reims y Amiens [Reims and Amiens], Pisa y Siena en el 1200 [Pisa and Siena in 1200], Padua, Florencia [Florence], Roma año 1500 [Rome in 1500], Florencia 1525 [Florence in 1525], Isenheim, La Roma de Bernini [The Rome of Bernini], Quito, La Roma de Borromini [The Rome of Borromini], Amberes 1600 [Antwerp in 1600], Ámsterdam 1600 [Amsterdam in 1600], De Francia Siglo XIX [Nineteenth- Century France], and Londres 1800 [London in 1800]. The copies were mailed to subscribers to the program, who were eligible to receive a certified attendance diploma if they completed a series of exercises suggested by Traba over the course of the program. According to some sources, these copies were also used in the Chocó region by a group of priests who taught art history classes in areas with no television coverage. The scripts include studies on art production at different historical periods between the Paleolithic and the nineteenth century; given the time available, there are inevitably some generalizations and omissions. They are nonetheless proof of a unique attempt to expose the general public to art, and demonstrate the pedagogical spirit of Marta Traba’s efforts to broadcast these art lectures via the media in an expression of incipient modernization of cultural policies or remarkable public activity on the part of critics and intellectuals.   


For more information on the role played by Marta Traba in Colombia’s cultural television programming, see “Gómez Echeverri, Nicolás, En blanco y negro. Marta Traba en la televisión colombiana, 1954?1958 [doc. no. 1131920 and doc.  no. 1131936]. 

Nicolás Gómez Echeverri
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Gustavo Zalamea Traba, Bogotá, Colombia