Art in the region that covers modern-day Colombia has a history that goes back thousands of years.
Pottery and ceramics dating back to 3100 B.C. have been found at an archaeological site called Puerto Hormiga near the Caribbean Coast.
Art became much more sophisticated over the centuries n the form of goldwork and sculptures. Quimbaya gold craftwork has been found that dates back to 325 B.C.
The colonialists transformed large parts of Colombia into the New Kingdom of Granada (1548-1717) and the Viceroyalty of New Granada (1717–1819). Colombian art produced during this era was heavily influenced by the Catholic church.
It was also influenced by the main art movement in Europe, including Baroque art and Rococo art between the 17th and 19th centuries.
At the start of the modern era, Colombian artists were mainly influenced by Mexican Artists, especially muralists. The country has produced many world-famous painters and sculptors during the 20th and 21st centuries.
So who are the most famous Colombian artists? In this article, you’ll find out.
1. Gregorio Vásquez
Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos (1638-1711), commonly referred to as Gregorio Vásquez, was the most famous Colombian artist of the colonial period. He was a Baroque artist who adopted the same style as his contemporaries in Europe.
His Baroque paintings almost exclusively feature scenes from the New Testament, Saints, Jesus Christ, Mary, and other religious figures. Vázsquez was born in Bogotá but his family had emigrated to the newly established colony from Seville in the Andalusia region in the 16th century.
2. Andrés de Santa Maria
Andrés de Santa Maria (1860-1945) was a Colombian painter who marked the bridge between the Old Masters and the artists of the modern era. He was the first Impressionist artist in Colombia but this revolutionary new style wasn’t very much appreciated in his native country.
His career has been divided into 3 periods, first in France where he was influenced by the Impressionists. Secondly, he returned to Colombia where he experimented with Pointillism. His final period was back in Europe when he experimented with thick layers of paint and contrasting colors.
3. Ricardo Acevedo Bernal
Ricardo Acevedo Bernal (1867-1930)was one of the most renowned Colombian portrait painters in history. He was initially trained at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in his home city Bogotá and also developed a keen interest in photography, a newly emerging medium at the time.
He lived for 8 years in New York City where he developed his photography skills before moving to France. In Paris, he studied at the Académie Julian, a popular private art school among foreigners. He became the director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes upon his return to Colombia and also founded the Museo Nacional de Colombia.
4. Pedro Nel Gómez Agudelo
Pedro Nel Gómez Agudelo (1899-1984) was one of the leading figures of the Colombian Muralist movement between the 1920s and 1940s. This art movement in Colombia was inspired by the Mexican muralists and Agudelo was one of the founders in his native country.
Just like in Mexico, the main subjects in his mural paintings were politically motivated as he aimed to express nationalistic and social issues. Renowned for his intelligence, he initially studied at the Academia de Bellas Artes de Medellín but also graduated in civil engineering at the College of Mines of Medellín. He later became the director and a professor of the Academia de Bellas Artes de Medellín.
5. Santiago Martínez Delgado
Santiago Martínez Delgado (1906-1954) was an extremely versatile Colombian artist who was also part of the beginnings of the Colombian Muralist movement in the 1920s. He was another artist who studied abroad, more specifically at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts
During his time in Chicago, he painted a world-famous mural at the “Century of Progress” exhibition, a World Fair that was held in the city in 1933 and 1934. He earned the Logan Medal of the Arts in 1933 for his amazing work of art. He was one of the most celebrated Colombian artists when he died of a stroke at the age of 47.
6. Omar Rayo
Omar Rayo (1928-2010) was one of the leading Op Art Artists of the 20th century, a movement that revolved around optical illusions. His artworks integrate abstract geometry and he almost exclusively worked in black, white, red, and yellow.
He was a very prolific artist, a notion that is emphasized by the fact that a museum dedicated to over 2,000 of his artworks was opened in 1981. The Museo Rayo de Dibujo y Grabado Latinoamericano opened its doors in his home town Roldanillo and also houses over 500 works by other Latin American artists.
7. Doris Salcedo
Doris Salcedo (born in 1958) is a Colombian artist who is world-famous for her artworks that are inspired by her life in Colombia. She uses common items such as wooden furniture, clothing, concrete, grass, and rose petals to produce art that conveys personal messages.
In the 21st century, she mainly started focusing on large installations that often cover entire galleries or other spaces. She completed one of her most famous works in 2007 at the Unilever turbine hall of the Tate Modern Museum in London. “Shibboleth,” as it was called, featured a large concrete crack that was filled afterward.
8. Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero (born in 1932) is a Colombian painter and sculptor whose works can be found in locations all around the world. His sculptures can be admired from Vaduz to Singapore and from Medellín to Madrid. This arguably makes him one of the most famous Colombian artists in history.
His paintings are mostly focused on situational portraiture, often including overweight people. His sculptures are also easily recognizable because they usually feature “fat “large people.” Although he is best known for his sculptures today, he didn’t start producing them until he moved to Paris in 1973.