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In the text, “Neo Figurativo y Pop-Art” [Neo-figurative and Pop Art], Colombian sculptor Julio Abril presents Pop Art as “fashion’s latest war cry,” a U.S. contribution to the international art scene. In his opinion, Pop Art represents the U.S. lifestyle, and will therefore end up becoming one of the main forms of expression in the United States. In this regard, Abril states that if Pop Art means popular art, this is not like Colombian popular art, which is “timid and rudimentary,” rather art “made with all the advantages of industrial production.” Abril also argues that Pop Art will unleash “Anti-Art,” since such work is created through mechanized processes and therefore lacks “intellectual conflict and purely artistic technique.” To Abril, Pop Art is opposed to universal art forms, which are comprehensible to all peoples. For this reason, he recommends that Colombian artists rebel against the influence of this art trend and continue the search for “an art that is more significant, an art that affirms our nationality and the current experience of modern life in Colombia.”
The view of Pop Art expressed in this article is absolutely sui generis owing to the place where it is stated. It is set forth in a nationalist, Latin Americanist discourse, which the writer associates with truly universal art. Colombian sculptor Julio Abril (1912–1979), questions the artwork and discourse linked with Pop Art from a perspective rooted in the current art world in Colombia (or Abril’s view of it). This leads Abril to present unexpected readings of that movement. It has been difficult to pin down the precise date of this document. When it appeared in the compendium La Sumisión del Arte Colombiano: Voces-Protesta de un Escultor [The Submission of Colombian Art: Voices—a Sculptor’s Protest] (1973), the document was undated, because it had not been previously published. However, based on the nature of the plan for the publication, which would consist of a collection of texts written by Abril, we may infer that this article was written a few years before 1973. Abril, a sculptor associated with the nationalist art movement in Colombia, studied at the Universidad Nacional [National University] in Colombia, where he was taught by the sculptors Gustavo Arcila (1895–1963) and José Domingo Rodríguez (1895–1968). Between 1940 and 1948, when Abril lived in Mexico, he struck up a friendship with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957). Rivera stated that “the new Latin American visual art is speaking” in the artist’s work, published in “La escultura del colombiano Julio Abril” [Sculpture by the Colombian, Julio Abril]). Abril was one of the most radical critics of the opinions of Marta Traba (1923–1983), the Argentine critic initially based in Colombia. In particular, he focused on her comments about the tensions between nationalism and universalism in Latin American art.