Santiago Cárdenas (1937 – )




Santiago Cárdenas was born in Colombia in 1937. He is one of the most influential Colombian and Latin American artists of the twentieth century in terms of post-abstractionist movements, particularly in Pop Art.


Cárdenas moved to the United States when he was young and pursued his entire education here from around 1947- 1967.  He first attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he was effectively made into an advertising and design draughtsman. This early kinship with drawing is evident in both his early and later works.  He received a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Cummington Art School and began to shift towards fine art. He finished his studies with a Master in Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art and Architecture, where he came in contact with abstract expressionism and pop art through some of his teachers: Alex Katz, Robert Wesselmann and James Rosenquist.


Back in Colombia, Cárdenas started a long career as an educator when he became the director for the School of Art at the country’s National University. The first works he executed back in his native country are very close to Pop Art, including important pieces such as “Algo de Comer”/ Something to Eat (1967).  After a period of focus on Pop aesthetics, he moved closer to Abstract Expressionism and in particular to Cy Twombly with his blackboard paintings series. He keeps, nevertheless, a grip on figuration, preserving the emphasis on objects and their potential narratives.


Within Colombia, Cárdenas was a decisive component for the generation of artists known as “Generación del Sesenta”.  Throughout his career, the artist has exhibited his work in various prestigious biennials and museums such as the Venice Biennial in 1989 and 1990, the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1977, and the Museo Rufino Tamayo in México City, where he was given a solo show.

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