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In 1978, the poet Mario Rivero, who was the art critic for the Revista Diners for many years, wrote an article on the recent work of Umberto Giangrandi. In his text, Rivero interprets the work of the printmaker born in Italy—residing in Colombia since 1966—deeming him “one of the most important printmakers” of the time. Along with Augusto Rendón, Giangrandi was the source of a “new pictorial language” of social content, the intersection of testimony, spontaneity, energy and attention to technique. The graphic arts constituted a new language designed for a vast viewing public to which Giangrandi “reports on his experience of the world.” This was the knowledge the artist gathered about the lay of the land in Colombia, spreading around one of the “most active ideas about art”: the artist’s social commitment. Rivero predicts that Colombia would be indebted to Giangrandi for his stimulation of graphic art there through his academic work, the research conducted in the context of Taller 4 Rojo, and the work performed in his own graphic arts workshop. His works take us back to the aesthetic and poetic principles of the German Expressionists Max Beckmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.


Starting with its first issue, the Revista Diners (launched by Diners Club in 1963) planned to disseminate visual artwork in Colombia. This task was undertaken by the poet and art critic Mario Rivero (1935-2009), who wrote an art criticism piece every month for the publication. The text “Giangrandi” (1978) is significant as a study of the work of Umberto Giangrandi (b. 1942), a painter and printmaker born in Italy, because it highlights his commitment to art with social content. At the same time, it points out his contributions to graphic arts in Colombia. This text appeared again in the book Artistas plásticos en Colombia: los de ayer y los de hoy (1982), which collected Rivero’s articles through various editions of the review. The text was also published one more time in the catalogue/book Umberto Giangrandi. Testimonio de vida” (2007), under the title “Imágenes de lucha”.


The graphic arts heyday of the 1960s occurred in tandem with the development of thinking on the function of art, the artist’s social commitment and an interest in the testimonial nature of artwork, with a marked Expressionist trend. Armed conflict in Colombia was an important theme for the printmakers of that period, whose work brought autonomy to their art language. In this way, Giangrandi contributed to the dissemination of the print, not just through courses given at the university and beyond, but through the know-how provided in the course of introducing technology into Colombia’s graphic art workshops. This led to the importation of the materials (such as paper and ink) and equipment needed for the proper practice of the graphic arts. That pivotal period was reflected in the opening of various workshops in the 1970s and 1980s. They included Luis Ángel Parra’s Taller Arte Dos Gráfico, Ana Mercedes Hoyos’s Taller 25C, Taller Luis Paz, opened by the artist with the same name, and Hugo Zapata’s Arte Serial: Taller Experimental de Medellín. In addition, the printmaker Pedro Alcántara Herrán opened the Taller Corporación Prográfica and Giangrandi opened the Taller Giangrandi. Two more workshops were Juan Manuel Lugo’s Taller La Huella and Enrique Hernández’s Taller Serigráfico.


In the early 1970s, Taller 4 Rojo was organized as an art collective originally directed by Diego Arango (b. 1942) and Nirma Zárate (1936–99). Later, it became stronger with the addition of the artists Carlos Granada, Jorge Mora, Fabio Rodríguez Amaya and Giangrandi, himself. The new members were all artisans creating interdisciplinary work involving both sociopolitical and artistic practices [see “Folleto del Taller Escuela de Artes Gráficas 4 Rojo,” doc. no. 1135790]. Using photo silk screen and photogravure, this group produced print series on the struggles of workers, peasants and the natives in Colombia. 


Mario Rivero, one of Colombia’s most outstanding poets and a multitalented intellectual, wrote art criticism for the Bogotá daily newspaper El Espectador (1963-69) and the Revista Diners (starting in 1970). In 1972, he founded and became director of the poetry review Golpe de dados.

Katia González Martínez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Germán Santamaría, Ediciones Gamma S.A. Bogotá, Colombia