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This document by Óscar Delgado, editor of the Colombian journal Índice Cultural [Cultural Index], reports on the creation of the Movimiento Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Visual Arts Movement] in 1955. The article presents the main activities carried out by the group during its first six months, highlighting the following: a general invitation asking for participation in national arts events, its support for establishing arts institutions, its promotion of the visual arts with the Colombian government, and, finally, the creation of the Taller Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Visual Arts Workshop] to carry out the “decoration” of public schools at the national level.


This document is important as a report on one of the first independent movements in Colombia to arise in the 1950s and one of the few to be formed at all in the twentieth century. The movement was created through the initiative of Uruguayan art critic Aristides Meneghetti, who moved to Colombia in 1955. As an arts promoter, he proposed and coordinated arts projects in the cities of Bogotá, Pereira, and Medellín. This collective operated under Meneghetti’s coordination and consisted of about 160 artists from all over the country. Some of its outstanding members were: Alejandro Obregón (1920–1992), Judith Márquez Montoya (1925–1994), Cecilia Porras de Child (1920–1971), Enrique Grau Araujo (1920–2004), Augusto Rivera (1922–1982), Jorge Elías Triana (1921–1999), Manuel Hernández (born 1928), Fernando Botero (born 1932), and José Domingo Rodríguez Acevedo (1907–1981).

The movement arose in the context of Colombia’s only twentieth-century military dictatorship, that of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (1953–57). Among its purposes were to influence government decision-making in order to foster the development of the arts and arts institutions. It was successful in persuading the Colombian State to issue decrees and achieved incipient economic sponsorship and support for “decorating” the country’s public schools, for example, the Escuela República del Perú in Bogotá.

The terms “decorate” or “decorations” were initially used in Mexico to introduce the instructional function of art and national history to the masses, on school walls in the early 1920s, before the muralist movement was even recognized as such.

The movement focused on the socializing effects of art and was interested in muralism and the integration of painting, sculpture, ceramics, and stained-glass windows in contemporary architecture. Its members approached Colombian architects such as Gabriel Serrano (1909–1982) in order to propose that group artists undertake the decoration of public buildings. This was evidence of its links to the art-integration approach, which was prevalent in Latin American and European countries [at the time]. 

Helena Wiesner
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Oscar Delgado, Bogotá, Colombia