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Portrait of Beatriz González

The painter, art historian, and critic Beatriz González was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, in 1938. She studied fine arts at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and print-making at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her first solo show took place in 1964 at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, where González exhibited her Lacemaker series based on Johannes Vermeer's famous painting. This series revealed what would reoccur in her oeuvre: a careful study of canonical paintings and an interest in color blocking and saturated colors. As her career progressed, González became aware of the intersection between old master paintings and their re-signification in so-called Third World countries, such as Colombia, where these images are ubiquitous in mass media and popular among many sectors of society. This link between formal painting and widely held traditions propelled González to become one of the leading painters in what at the time was known as neo figuración (new figuration) and what today is generally known as pop art. The 1965 painting series Los suicidas del Sisga (The suicides of Sisga) was inspired by a tabloid story, published in the local newspaper El Tiempo, about a young couple who committed suicide by throwing themselves over the Sisga Dam. Other series depicted images of important politicians, family portraits published in newspaper society pages, and naive scenes painted on city buses.

The political impact of González's works has led her to be considered as a key player in the shaping of conceptual art in Colombia. With Los suicidas del Sisga, González won second prize in the 17th Salón de Artistas Nacionales. During her career she has received other awards, such as second prize at the 1st Salón de Pintura (1965) in Cali and special mention at the 33rd Salón Nacional de Artistas de Colombia (1990). Adding to these accolades is her participation in important biennials, such as the 11th Bienal de São Paulo (1971), 38th Venice Biennale (1976), 8th Berlin Biennale (2014), and Documenta 14, Kassel (2017). Most recently, Los suicidas del Sisga and her furniture piece The Last Supper were included in The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern, London (2015). González's work has extended beyond the gallery walls. Since 1983 she has curated numerous exhibitions in Colombia and has published monographs on individual artists, including Luis Caballero (1943–1995). Her work is in international collections such as Havana's Casa de las Américas and New York's Museum of Modern Art and El Museo del Barrio as well as in museums in Colombia.

—Marcela Guerrero

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1964 Encajeras, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá

1976 Retrospectiva: Un inventario, Museo de Arte Moderno, La Tertulia, Cali

1984 Beatriz González: Retrospectiva, 1962–1984, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá

1998 Señor Presidente, qué honor estar con usted en este momento histórico: Trabajos, 1965–1997, El Museo del Barrio, New York

2010 Beatriz González: La comedia y la tragedia: Retrospectiva, 1948–2010, Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Colombia

Selected Bibliography

Ponce de León, Carolina, ed. Beatriz González: What an Honor to Be with You at This Historic Moment: Works, 1965–1997. New York: El Museo del Barrio, 1998.

Reyes, Ana María. "Art at the Limits of Modernization: The Artistic Production of Beatriz González during the National Front in Colombia." PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2011.

Sierra Maya, Alberto. Beatriz González: La comedia y la tragedia: Retrospectiva, 1948–2010. Medellín, Colombia: Museo de Arte Moderno, 2011.

Traba, Marta. Los muebles de Beatriz González. Bogotá: Museo de Arte Moderno, 1977.

Villegas Jiménez, Benjamín. Beatriz González. Bogotá: Villegas, 2005.