Alejandro Obregón (1920-1992)
Beatriz González (b. 1938)
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Vermeeriana I

Vermeeriana I
signed and dated 'B. González, 64' (lower right), inscribed, dated and titled 'Vermeeriana, Beatriz González Aranda, 1964 Junio' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
33 1⁄2 x 39 3⁄8 in. (85.1 x 100 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
Private collection, Bogotá (gift from the artist).
By descent to the present owners.
M. Calderón, et. al., Beatriz González, Una pintora de provincia, Bogotá, Carlos Valencia Editores, 1988, p. 59, no. 35 (illustrated).
C.M. Jaramillo, et. al., Beatriz González, Bogotá, Villegas Editores, 2005, p. 29 (illustrated in color).
Catálogo razonado Beatriz González, Bogotá, Banco de Archivos Digitales de Artes en Colombia (BADAC), Facultad de Artes y Humanidades, Universidad de los Andes (, accessed on 12 February 2022 (illustrated in color).
Medellín, Museo La Tertulia, Cali, Galería de la Oficina, Beatriz González Retrospectiva (un inventario), 1976.
Bogotá, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Beatriz González Exposición Retrospectiva 1962-1984, 1984.
Miami, Pérez Art Museum, Beatriz González: A Retrospective, 19 April–2 September 2019, p. 69 (illustrated in color). This exhibition also traveled to Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 27 October 2019–20 January 2020 and Bogotá, Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia, 15 October-7 December 2020.
Further details
1 Marta Traba, “¡Claro que hay jóvenes con talento!” Revista La Nueva Prensa 110 (April 18-24, 1964), in Beatriz González: A Retrospective (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, 2019), 255.
2 Beatriz González, quoted in Ana María Reyes, The Politics of Taste: Beatriz González and Cold War Aesthetics (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019), 50, 52, 55.
3 Ibid., 56.

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Lot Essay

Announcing Beatriz González as the year’s “most promising new painter,” the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá awarded her with a solo exhibition—her first—in April 1964. She presented thirteen versions of Johannes Vermeer’s masterful Lacemaker (ca. 1669-70), artfully riffing on “the very precise, transparent, crystal-clear, and diaphanous painting by the noted seventeenth-century Flemish artist from Delft.” Marta Traba, the noted critic and the museum’s founding director, praised the Encajera [Lacemaker] series as “an excellent example of an exercise in style,” each painting “painstakingly articulated as both color and form” and expressive of “a mood, an idea wittily developed with causticity and good humor.”[1] At the time of the exhibition, González was just two years removed from her studies at the Universidad de los Andes (1959-62), where she had trained under the painter Juan Antonio Roda and written an art history thesis on Vermeer under Traba’s supervision. The Encajeras, begun in 1963, evolved the next year into the Vermeeriana paintings, which earned her an Honorable Mention at the Salón Intercol de Artistas Jóvenes (Bogotá) in July and which she was invited to exhibit at the XVI Salón Nacional de Artistas Colombianos (Bogotá) in October.
González had first experimented with Old Master reproductions while still a student, beginning with Diego Velázquez and culminating with her extended visitation of Vermeer. “In our studio hung a poster from the Prado Museum of The Surrender of Breda by Velázquez,” she recalled of Roda’s classroom. “I started to splatter turpentine, wonderful colors: yellows, greens....What was happening was that in speaking so much about Velázquez, in Marta Traba’s class, about his brushwork, the ribbons....I took those elements and gave them importance.... All of it, that is, over a background that was very much my own, a lime green background, completely flat.” In the wake of this early watershed—“from that moment on, it all started,” González acknowledges—she turned her gaze to Vermeer. “After reading all of the monographs I could find in the whole country—eight in total—and studying the opinions of the most influential critics,” she recalled, “I considered it impossible to separate myself from the influence of this painter, his great compositional balance, the poetry and music of his work.”[2]
“I understood then that if my relationships were to be more with the lacemaker than with the painter, with whose shape and figure I should be totally familiar,” González reflected of the evolution of her Encajera paintings in 1963-64, “I could make the lacemaker obey me; make her look toward the opposite side; make her lift her head; transform her into a gargoyle, a caryatid, a bird, a monkey. That is how the exciting game began that would form part of my paintings of 1964. Obsessed by the accents in the Vermeer, his defined and fading forms, the flat colors that serve as space in the Pielroja calendars, and the desire to achieve independent colors somewhere between commercial and refined colors, I began to transform the lacemaker, breaking her away until she was released from Vermeer and, in her own environment, from herself.”[3]
González followed her pictorial analyses of The Lacemaker with similarly abstracting and chromatic deconstructions of Vermeer’s Woman Reading a Letter (ca. 1663) in a series of paintings titled Vermeeriana that she made in 1964. The extraordinary optical and compositional effects of the original—its range of blue tonalities, its illumination of contour and shadow, its expressive geometry—are deftly reimagined in González’s art of appropriation. Like the other Vermeeriana paintings, the present work isolates the figure against a planar ground, the colors—shades of magenta, canary yellow, dove gray, Delft blue, and her signature chartreuse green—flattened and compartmentalized. The palette recalls that of Encajera almanaque pielroja (1964), but the composition is far more simplified—to a degree even beyond other Vermeeriana paintings, which describe the figure’s face and dress in slightly greater detail. González here preserves the enigma of Vermeer’s canvas through radically different means, channeling the period sensibilities of her own moment (Color Field painting, Pop art) and arriving, by the end of the Vermeerianas, at the brink of abstraction. She would go no further along this path, instead reprising her study of copies through the collection of contemporary news clippings, work that led to Los suicidas del Sisga (1965) and the next phase of her career.
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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