The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This forty-eight page catalogue consists of the following sections: “Manifiesto de los artistas independientes a los artistas de las Américas” [Manifesto Dedicated by Independent Artists to the Artists of the Americas] (two pages); “La exposición de arte nacional de Medellín” [Exhibition of the Art of Medellín]; an interview with Marco A. Peláez by Luis Martel (four pages); and reproductions of the forty-two works in the exhibition. The artists involved were as follows: Maruja Uribe, Graciela Sierra, Pedro Nel Gómez, Jesusita Vallejo, Gabriel Posada Zuloaga, Rafael Sáenz, Débora Arango, Graciela Sierra, Octavio Montoya, and Laura Restrepo de Botero. The manifesto, signed in February, lists thirteen points that address a need for art—both American and Colombian art: a need for frescos as an artistic outlet for the people; support by the state; a distinction between art and politics; art education; European independence; a sense of belonging to the continent; a revolution in art; and art that is a reflection of an entire period in time.
This document is important because it is the only manifesto relevant to the visual arts produced during that period that documents the unequivocal defense of American art that defined that generation in Colombia. The driving force behind that attitude was the Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gómez (1889–1984), whose goal was to create an indigenous mythology expressed in murals, which was his medium of choice. Nel Gómez is quoted as saying, “I am essentially a muralist; that is, one who steeps his works in the victories, dreams, defeats, and agonies of his people and his country (…). I think a mural is a page left open to the people, who will read it every day without even realizing it, and as they experience it they will be filled with hope.” But it is appropriate to ask if this sort of statement suggests that Nel Gómez used his art as a political weapon, as he and other artists of that period have been accused of doing. The “Manifesto” refers to the fresco as the painting of the people, and to the revolution in art as a flowering. These ideas had more in common with democratization and access to artistic expressions than with a political vision that echoed a demand for change, as mentioned in point five of the manifesto: “Art has its own politics.” As part of this pro-American trend, the spirit of nationalism found expression in the need to consolidate the national art as a component of its identity, and was greatly influenced by Mexican mural art. Not necessarily in terms of muralism’s endorsement of the Mexican Revolution—because in Colombia those who liked mural painting roundly rejected the idea of using art as a vehicle for revolutionary propaganda—but as a means of combining current local realities with the indigenous heritage of the past.