“Torres García en Bogotá” was the first in a series of articles by the art critic Marta Traba (1923–83), published in the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo, in which she analyzed the Constructivist theory expounded by Joaquín Torres García, known as the Escuela del Sur. Meanwhile, Julio Alpuy (1919−2009), a student of Torres García’s, spent a few years in Bogotá, from 1957 to 1961 (with a hiatus of almost a year and a half while he was in Europe and Venezuela), where he introduced the theory he had learned at the Torres García Studio in Montevideo.
After Torres García died in 1949, Alpuy’s travels prompted him to set a new course for his artistic production. He went to Europe, and spent time in Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East before returning to Uruguay, where no longer a student, he became a teacher at the Torres García Studio. Then, as mentioned above, he lived in Bogotá for a period during which his work began to drift away from Constructivist principles. Those years in Bogotá were undoubtedly the most important in Alpuy’s career, and as he said on several occasions, his work should be divided into two periods: pre-Bogotá and post-Bogotá.
The work that was done by the Escuela del Sur—with Joaquín Torres García leading a group of brilliant students in Montevideo—was virtually unknown in Colombian intellectual circles at the time. There had thus far been no direct contact with the theory or the work produced by the Escuela del Sur, so that Alpuy was the first member of the School to visit Colombia and became the only conduit to the group in Montevideo. There was a vibrant intellectual scene in Bogotá in those days, and Marta Traba’s first article captures the excitement surrounding Alpuy’s arrival and the enthusiastic welcome he received. In later years, Alpuy exhibited his work at the Luis Ángel Arango Library, and wrote an article that appeared in the last edition of Prisma magazine. He spent the final decades of his life in New York City.
This article by Marta Traba should be read in conjunction with the article: “Alpuy en la Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango” .