This is the first critical text that Colombian artist and critic Bernardo Salcedo (1939–2007) signed with the pseudonym “Germán Lleras de Francisco.” It was written in 1979, when Salcedo returned to Colombia after three years in Europe. During two of those years, he served as a business attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Budapest, Hungary. It was in that context—one radically different for Salcedo—that he worked on the Cosas nuevas [New Things] series discussed here. That series, which toured Europe and North American, marked a major change in Salcedo’s production insofar as it was more classical than earlier “rupturist” works. This shift was due to the artist’s experience in the cities of Budapest, Prague (then Czechoslovakia), and Krakow (Poland), as well as the influence of Hungarian-born British art historian Arnold Hauser (1892–1978), his neighbor during his first year in Budapest.
The year 1978 marked Hauser’s return to Budapest after having lived in England from the beginning of his career as a historian as well as his death. Hauser and Salcedo engaged in lively discussions on art history that broadened Salcedo’s vision, as did the recovery of the historical architecture of then Socialist Budapest, much of which was covered in scaffolding for years at a time as it underwent restoration. The artist’s frequent visits to the old markets in Krakow and Vienna also enriched the images that ultimately yielded the universe of minimal territories formulated in Cosas nuevas.