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    Olga de Amaral en el MAM de París / José Hernández
    Semanal (Bogotá, Colombia). -- Jun. 6, 1981
    p. 14 : ill.
    Journal article – Interviews
    Hernández, José. “Olga de Amaral en el MAM de París.” Semanal (Bogotá, Colombia), June 6, 1981, 14.  
    Amaral, Olga de, 1932-; Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris

From Paris, cultural journalist José Hernández announces an exhibition of textile art being held at the Musée d’Art Moderne (MAM). The show, which featured work by Colombian artist Olga de Amaral, opened on April 29, 1981. It exhibited modern tapestries by artists from many different countries. Four works by Amaral were featured in the exhibition: three tapestries produced specifically for the event and an earlier work entitled Vestidura de calicanto [Masonry Clothing] (1977). These creations were the result of technical research on the use of hair from a horse’s mane and of plaster. In this interview with Hernández, Amaral explains that “masonry” refers to something hermetic and closed, a sort of metaphor for Colombia. It is also, the artist asserts, a question of intuition. Amaral believes that “we are killing ourselves within that hermeticism. Enclosed, Colombians are committing suicide.” Key to Amaral’s aesthetic research was coming into contact with sophisticated textile fibers while she was in the United States. She states, “I discovered the color, texture, structure of the world of fabric. In a context so rich in possibilities, I learned how to approach that world in a contemporary fashion.”


This interview with textile artist Olga de Amaral (b. 1932) attests to the international importance of her work in tapestry. Indeed, Amaral is one of the most important textile artists in the United States and Europe. The conversation touches on the pictorial and sculptural aspects of textile. Cuban critic Galaor Carbonell (1938-1996), who lives in Colombia, considers Amaral an “assemblagist” who produces constructivist work. The retrospective exhibition Olga de Amaral: Cuatro tiempos (1993) demonstrates the various phases of a longstanding creative process (see doc. no. 1134094). 


Olga de Amaral studied architectural design at the Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca in Bogotá (1951-1952) and textile design at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1954-1955). Soon after returning to Colombia, the artist and her husband, fellow artist Jim Amaral (b. 1933), who is from California, established a studio for loom-based textile production. Making tapestries was the beginning of a process of experimentation inspired by weavers who considered themselves visual artists. Amaral founded the Textile Department of the Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá); she chaired that department from 1965 to 1970. From 1968 to 1972, she was the Colombian representative to the World Crafts Council (WCC), a non-governmental organization that provides grants to support artisans from around the world. Amaral was the director of WCC for Latin America from 1970 to 1978. Thanks to the efforts of artist and art advocate Jack Lenor Larsen, Olga de Amaral has exhibited tapestries in New York and given classes at the Penland School of Crafts in Bakersville, North Carolina and at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. In 1968, she traveled to Peru representing the WCC. The textiles and fibers made using age-old techniques that she saw while in Cuzco informed her later creative process. In 1971, she was awarded a prize at the XXII Salón de Artistas Nacionales and, the next year, her piece La gran maraña paramuna [The Great Highland Tangle] (1972) was granted first prize at the Bienal de Coltejer. That work, which required extensive research into textile, is considered a milestone in Amaral’s career. Similarly, the monochrome work Vestiduras de calicanto (1977), exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne of Paris, also marked a significant moment insofar as it explored new materials like hair from a horse’s mane and plaster, thus facilitating explorations into the structure and three-dimensionality of textile. In the interview, the artist explains that these works forge a connection between textile and landscape in which masonry “binds nostalgia or the landscape to the [Colombian] high plateau.”


José Hernández (b. 1955) earned recognition as the editor of Bogotá-based newspaper El Tiempo where he published criticism by Carolina Ponce León (b. 1957) and José Hernán Aguilar (b. 1952). In conjunction with artists Jaime Iregui (b. 1956) and Carlos Salas (b. 1957), Hernández founded Espacio Vacío (1997-2002), a venue for exhibition and debate on the Bogotá art scene.

Katia González Martínez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of José Hernández, Bogotá, Colombia