Colombian Art

My ambition is to present Colombian art, both old and new, and give useful and interesting information about museums, galleries and alternative spaces, both public and private, for visitors and residents who want to dig deeper into the art and culture of the city and country at large.


We can’t talk about Colombian art in the context of Medellin without looking at Botero, so let’s just get to it right off the bat. I want to mention that I don’t consider it fully appropriate that Botero is thought of as making traditional art – but then, I can’t be blamed for his becoming one of the most famous artists in the world within his own lifetime now, can I? Besides, he has certainly put art in Medellin on the map.

THE BOTERO MUSEUM (Museo de Antioquia)
Cra. 52 # 52-53
Tel: (57) 4-251 3636
Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri: 9:30 – 5:00pm

The museum, the major of the attractions of Medellin, lies in the very heart of Medellin and is dedicated to the work of Fernando Botero. Approaching the building you walk through the Plaza de las Sculpturas (Sculptures Square) that features 23 of the artist´s sculptures. The square gives you a feel for the mixture that is Colombia and Medellin. New meets old, rich meets poor, art meets street vendors.

The museum, an excellent art space in itself, shows 118 of Botero´s works. Additionally, there are roughly 500 works from the 19/20th centuries from the region and Colombia.

When you’ve had enough Colombian art for the time being, there is also a good restaurant with outdoor seating, but note that it can be fairly warm in the sun and the center does become quite noisy as the day progresses, so it might be an idea to eat inside.

Colombian art is of course associated with Fernando Botero who has donated a significant number of paintings and sculptures to the Botero Museum, otherwise know as the Museo de Antioquia (Museum of Antioquia).

The museum itself, situated centrally in Medellin right next to the park, Parque de Botero, with numerous sculptures by the famous artist is a large pleasant building hosting work by a number of Colombian artists, such as Luis Caballero.

The famous artist was born April 19, 1932 and essentially paints and sculpts mainly portraits famous for their exaggerated proportions. His paintings are striking in their uniqueness and his use of light and form have a powerful effect on the observer who can’t help but be confronted by his irony and social critique that are present in so many of his works.

There are two café/ restaurants in the building, both situated next to two different gift shops. The most obvious café is the one to the front of the building by the main entrance but I must share the little known secret of Café Sophia in the back of the building next to a far superior and rather exquisite gift store.

Café Sophia is in a pleasant courtyard with a small pool with running water and is an excellent place to relax. The selection is small but in my opinion far superior (and cheaper) than the restaurant in the front – update – unfortunately, they’ve stopped serving their delicious Lasagna, but the ambiance is still worth it.

To get to Café Sophia (notice how insistent I am) please walk through the museum – just ask for directions – because the rear of the building is not a particularly pleasant area of town to stroll around.

The museum exhibits excellent art and the work by Botero is truly magnificent. In fact, it is through experiencing it at the museum that I have come to really appreciate his genius and complete originality.


(Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin / Museum of Modern Art, Medellin)
Open: Tue – Fri 9am – 5:30pm
Sat: 10am – 5:30pm / Sunday: 10am – 3:30pm

The Museum of Modern Art in Medellin used to be located in the Carlos E. Restrepo part of town, but the main space has recently been moved to a very cool old industrial brick warehouse-type building in the new and massive Cuidad del Rio development off the Las Vegas road, close to San Diego and a little down from El Poblado. Both sites are still in operation

The new site is an ambitious project and a strong example of how Medellin wants to, and is, developing tremendously not only economically but also in terms of Colombian art.

Even though I’m not a Colombian artists per se, I’ll proudly say that the MAMM showed my film DEAR LINA this summer which was a huge honor. The film is about my Colombian wife who grew up in Medellin and gives a personal account of growing up during the violence of Escobar but also of the importance of her family.

Here is the trailer:


CASA TRES PATIOS (Three Terraced House) Tel: 571-7798
Alternative art space / Free admission
Carrera 50 A # 63-31
Open: Mon to Fri 8am – 5pm (closed Thursday morning)
Sat 10am – 2pm

Conceived and founded by Tony Evanko, a North American artist and architect, la “Casa Tres Patios” (the Three Terraced House) is an alternative art space promoting contemporary work by local, national and international artists, based on themes dealing with community. For Tony, this project that has been developing for two years is very important in addition to other projects and interventions in Prado, the only neighborhood in Medellin involved in the conservation of its heritage.

This old house in Prado, encourages artists to transform its ample spaces or draw on its white walls to realize a variety of installations and performances, because the proposal for the house, is that of intervention over exhibition.

La Casa Tres Patios has welcomed 300 artists and held two auctions since its inception.

The mission of this non-profit organization is to serve as a platform for artists to promote exhibitions, workshops, residencies and conferences focusing on investigation, artistic and intellectual interchanges.

Tony’s future plans are to open a café to further utilize this charming space with its patios and terraces. La Casa Tres Patios has plenty of light, art and fresh air.

This is the perfect place to get an idea for contemporary art in Medellin.

Cartagena Colombia

I’ve visited Cartagena Colombia 3 times now, and can say that it’s my favorite place to visit in Colombia.

I recently visited during the 2012 Cartagena International Film festival (FICCI) which was an experience of a lifetime that I highly recommend. Entry to the screenings is free once you get a pass from the Centro de formacion de la cooperacion Española situated on the Plaza Santo Domingo.

My wife and I also made a short weekend trip just recently. 2 days, 3 nights. Just perfect.

There’s also the Cartagena nightlife that combines drinking and dancing with a unique charm, all of its own.

The Old Town

The old town, is the main tourist attraction which makes sense. However, it’s also worth it to check out Getsemani, across from the clock tower – an area that is quickly becoming just as touristy as the old town and is now fairly safe, especially during the day.

Cartagena Colombia has a population of just under one million and the contrast between rich and poor is extreme. The old town however, is very well maintained, safe and clearly run for tourism. For better or worse, this is the Cartagena tourists come for.

 There’s a mystique to the place. Narrow roads and maze-like terraces and rooftops, covered with small swimming pools with hidden levels of balconies where you can retreat from the streets to enjoy the breeze as the Cartagena weather gets very hot during the middle of the day.

Views of the colonial buildings dating back to the 16th century, church towers, domes and the Caribbean sea in the distance. It’s romantic and beautiful.

Hotels in Cartagena

There are dozens of hotels in Cartagena in addition to larger ones such as the renowned Sofitel Santa Clara that has a large swimming pool, enormous and refreshing courtyard and views from the upper deck over the Caribbean.

Boutique hotels are in vogue and perfect in this location. They are exclusive with top notch service but obviously, some are far better than others.

Restaurants in Cartagena

Cartagena Colombia has some of the best food in Colombia but it comes at a price. Main dishes cost around COP 30-50.000 (US$ 16 – 26) at a decent place.

Things to do in Cartagena

I recommend strolling about without necessarily feeling the need to take in this or that attraction. The entire old town is surrounded by walls and the area is said to be the safest in Colombia with 2000 police officers patrolling what is in reality, a very small area.

It might be a good idea to have an idea about where you want to eat because the difference in price and quality between the typical tourist traps and best restaurants is significant.

– Bolivar Park

This is next to the gold museum and close to the Plaza de Aduana. It’s a very nice park but this area does have a lot of street vendors.

– Gold Museum

Especially if you haven’t seen the bigger one in Bogota, this gives a taste and some important insight into Colombian history.

– Heredia Theater

A beautiful theater next to the wall facing the sea. Beautiful.

– Plaza de Aduana

Close to Bolivar Park and a great large space to get a feel for the architecture. You can dip through the fortifications and see the harbor and Bocagrande in the distance from this location.

Bocagrande outside Cartagena Colombia

Not what I expected. Its reputation is of a jet-setter place with fancy shops and restaurants. Yes, there’s an element of that but really, Colombia has so many other “fancy” areas now that it doesn’t stand out as it perhaps did before. El Poblado in Medellin is far more up-market than this area in my opinion with more options for things to do.

That said, it’s worth seeing if only once, but the beaches are not the best nor the sea particularly clean, so I’m not sure what the attraction is except for proximity to the Old Town.

There were some good supermarkets and a nice outdoor Juan Valdez on the main road. There are of course a number of high rises that I’m sure have a great view.