Sofía Urrutia Holguín/en

From Enciclopedia | Banrepcultural
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Other languages:
English • ‎español
Sofía Urrutia Holguín
Datos generales
Nombre Sofía Urrutia Holguín
Fecha de nacimiento 1912
Nacionalidad Colombo Boliviana
Ocupación Pintora
País de nacimiento Bolivia
Ciudad de nacimiento La paz
Fecha de fallecimiento 2002
País de fallecimiento Colombia, Bandera de Colombia }}
Ciudad de fallecimiento Bogotá
Familia Francisco José Urrutia (Padre)

Sofía Urrutia Holguín was a Colombian-Bolivian painter born in La Paz in 1912 and an exponent of naive or primitivist art. Through an informal artistic education amid humanities courses and private classes with painters, she made a place for herself among the most distinguished artists of the 1940-1970 period, receiving positive recognition from critics such as Walter Engel and Marta Traba. Her paintings dealt with natural and religious themes as well as elements of Colombian culture.


Sofía Urrutia was born into a prominent family from the city of Popayán. Her father, Francisco José Urrutia, served as foreign minister and carried out diplomatic work with countries such Bolivia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, which explains the artist’s birthplace of La Paz. Her artistic training was self-guided, through humanities courses during her family’s stays in Europe and later through contact with artists that were reinvigorating Colombian art. During the 1940s, Sofía took classes with the artist Guillermo Wiedemann at his workshop in the Teusaquillo neighborhood of Bogotá, and from that moment he would be a great friend. While the naivety of her work was a quality that was praised from the outset on the artistic circuit, recently there has been discussion around whether the word ‘naive’ is the most accurate description of the creative methods of Sofía Urrutia and other painters from the second half of the 20th century in Colombia. The term “primitivist” has been put forward in modern times to recognize this visual language, in dialogue with artistic trends that developed in other cultural and historical contexts since the beginning of the century. She was a tireless reader until her last days and painted in an authentic and unpretentious style. In her final years, her friends would visit her house to read to her, as her sight had diminished significantly and she was no longer able to read or paint. She passed away in Bogota in 2002.

Artistic career

In the 1940s, Sofía Urrutia started working very actively responding to the calls for the most important national group exhibitions at that time. In October 1948, she was one of the 26 participants of the Contemporary Painting Exhibition at the National Museum of Colombia, one of the two events that the institution organized between 1946 and 1950, in addition to the Annual Artists Show. In doing so, Urrutia earned a place among the “Generation of the 1950s,” and from then on was considered an exponent of naive art[1] In 1959, as a result of her outstanding work, the Austrian critic Walter Engel acknowledged her special place as part of a group of female Colombian painters, together with Judith Márquez, Lucy Tejada and Cecilia Porras[2]. In the early 1970s, Urrutia also had the support of the Argentinian critic Marta Traba, who dedicated one of her columns in the La Nueva Prensa newspaper to the artist in 1963 and described her work as “a spring that never runs dry”[3].

Features of her work

Art criticism at the beginning of the 1950s emphasized “the peace, clarity, and naive and crystal-clear beauty” of Sofía Urrutia’s paintings[4], characterizing them as elements taken from a “wondrous toy shop”[5], thus drawing the subtle line between childlike representation — to which primitivist art was compared — and the resolute, purposeful decision by the artist to portray reality through a non-professional technique. The writings of the critics included her in the avant-garde trends of the mid-20th century, pointing to her success in applying “colorful patches and striking touches of white” in paintings such as Beach on the Cauca River (Playa en el río Cauca)[6]. Urrutia’s scenes depict public spaces in cities such as Cartagena, Bogotá and Popayán. Other paintings are transformed into ethnographic portraits of indigenous and mestizo communities, such as Beach on the Cauca River, Cuna Indians (Indios Cuna) and Little Holy Week (Semana Santa Chiquita). Flowers are the central theme of her still lifes, which feature hydrangeas, roses and delphiniums. Her paintings devoted to religious themes portray figures such as St. Francis of Assisi, scenes from the Old Testament like Eden and The Tower of Babel, and stories such as The Creation of the World, Noah’s Ark, The Destruction of Sodom, Joseph Sold by his Brothers and Moses Saved from the Waters. The Bible and the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez were essential references in the construction of her imagery.

Featured works

  • 1952: Beach on the Cauca River and Annunciation (Anunciación), oil on canvas. Honorable mention at the 11th Annual Show of Colombian Artists.
  • 1967: The Girl and the Doll (La niña y la muñeca), Bogota Museum of Modern Art collection.

Obras de Sofía Urrutia en las Colecciones del Banco de la República

Works by Liliana Porter in the collections of the Banco de la República
Title Year Location Technique Registration number
St. Francis (San Francisco) 1969 Reserve Painting AP0303
Popayán Rooftops (Tejados de Popayán) 1983 Reserve Print AP3966
Cuna Indians (Indios Cuna) Not recorded Reserve Painting AP3846
Self-Portrait (Autorretrato) Not recorded Reserve Painting AP3845
Cartagena Rooftops (Tejados de Cartagena) ca. 1964 Reserve Painting AP0240


  • 1912: Born in La Paz, Bolivia.
  • 1948: Participates in the Contemporary Painting Exhibition at the National Museum of Colombia.
  • 1950: Holds her first individual exhibition in the Gregorio Vásquez hall of the National Library of Colombia.
  • 1962: Takes part in the 14th National Artists Show.
  • 2002: Diners Gallery dedicates a retrospective exhibition to her in Bogotá. She passes away in the same city.
  • 2016: The Banco de la República presents some of her works in the exhibition Apparent Naivety (Aparente ingenuidad), which looked back at Colombian primitivist painters.

See also

  • Apparent naivety exhibition. Primitivist painters in the art collection of the Banco de la República[1]
  • Guillermo Wiedemann [2]


  1. Vidales, L. (August 31, 1952). El “otro” punto de vista (The “other” point of view). El Tiempo.
  2. Gómez, N. Critical commentary from the book Pintoras colombianas contemporáneas (Contemporary Colombian painters) (1959) by Walter Engel. In: Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art, International Center for The Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA.
  3. .Reproduction of the column in the book Marta Traba (1984) compiled by Emma Araújo de Vallejo. Bogotá: Museum of Modern Art
  4. Engel, W. (August 17, 1952). El IX Salón Anual (The 11th Annual Show). El Tiempo.
  5. Mendoza, E. (August 9, 1952). La pintura en el IX Salón (Painting in the 11th show). El Espectador.
  6. Vidales, idem.


  • Calderón, C. (1990). Salón Nacional de Artistas 50 años (50 years of the National Artists Show). Bogotá: Colombian Institute of Culture (Colcultura).
  • Cobo Borda, J. et al. (2000). Sofía Urrutia. Pinturas (Sofía Urrutia: Paintings). Bogotá: Seguros Bolívar.

Art collection of the Banco de la República


1. Research and text: Oscar David Rodríguez, mediator of the museums and collections of the Banco de la República, for Banrepcultural

2. Text revision and editing: Inti Camila Romero Estrada and Diana Salas, Public and Educational Services department, Art and Other Collections Unit (UAOC).