Lecture 2. The Discovery of the Past: Neocolonial And Indigenism in Art and Architecture

This lecture displays the architectural production resulting from the first reflections on the problem of national identity in Colombia. Like in many other Latin American countries, Colombian architects and engineers started looking at their past, namely at the Spanish-colonial tradition, as source for a national architecture. As a result, from the 1920s several typologies were designed by both Colombian and foreign professionals, mostly US American, in a wide range of Spanish-colonial languages. In the second part, the lecture features the “discovery” of alternative sources in the quest for a “national style”. It moves the focus toward the dialogues between architecture and other artistic and cultural fields. As a matter of fact, Colombian painters, sculpturers, writers, and archeologists were already reflecting on the role of indigenous traditions for the construction of Colombian national identity. For both sections of the lecture, a selection of textual primary sources helps in revealing architects’ and other actors’ positions, showing the cultural debate underneath and its transdisciplinary character. As the local context appears highly receptive of parallel developments and debates in other Latin American countries, this lecture includes references from the region, mostly from Mexico and Peru, and the USA. For the conclusions, the lecture briefly highlights the legacy of this period in the Colombian architectural production of the second half of the 20th century. In particular, it emphasizes how the values of colonial architecture became part of the discourse of legitimization of modernism, helping in making it “Colombian”. This lecture outlines the following themes and features buildings from the following regions: 1. Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and the diffusion of neocolonial architecture 2. Debate about colonial tradition and national style 3. Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and the diffusion of indigenist architecture 4. Debate about indigenous legacy, archaeological discoveries 5. Legacy of the period in Colombia and in the region


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