Historical background and contributions of Chilean galleries in the development and difussion of art

In the 19th century, the Republic of Chile overcame by the instances of wars and the emancipation by the separation in the politic social order and economy of the Hispanic peninsula, and it will start a politic stability under the periods called decades. Thus new authorities began to take notice that the citizens must be formed and educated.

In the mid-1880s, the authorities began to worry about the development of the humanities, and in the decade of the Manuel Bulnes (1841 -1851) began to incentivize to developing culture and foster education.

Thus, the model adopted in painting exhibitions visiting Chile was the French model. With this is created the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1849 and the government begins to seek a managing director. Besides the creation of this space, this will receive the elite of the national art, the French Raimundo de Monvoisin is invited, and who in his arrival on Chile brings the first paintings with a neoclassic trend.

On March 4, 1843, is the inauguration of the first art expo in the country in the former Salon Real Universidad de San Felipe, a very successful sample in Paris. On the occasion were exhibited works like Sesión 9 Thermidor, Ali Baja Visir de Janina, la Bella Vasiliki, Eloisa en el sepulcro de Abelardo.

Monvoisin, Alí Bajar Visir de Janina (1832)
Monvoisin, Alí Bajar Visir de Janina (1832)

Second precedents are the arrangements of Pedro Lira, helped by some friends, in creating the corporation called Unión de Artistas, with the members Pedro Lira, Ramón Subercaseaux, Manuel Rengifo, Gregorio Mira, Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma and Onofre Jarpa.

The so-called salón de la Unión de Artistas was inaugurated the 15th of November 1885 and is an important precedent in the dissemination of national visual arts.

Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma, Coquetería (1890)
Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma, Coquetería (1890)

In the middle of the 19th the Salon institutions are strengthened, and in them the ideal to achieve the enshrining is showing and prevailing, and during the thirties is inaugurated the exhibition hall of Banco de Chile (1937) with traditional works in exhibit; with works of  Dorliac, Pascual Gambino, Marco Antonio Bontá, Hardy Wistuba, among others.

In the forties, with the end of the second world war, the exhibit of paintings, engravings, drawings, and sculptures is done in binational institutes, like the Chilean American, Chilean-French and Chilean-British.

In the political aspect, a social and institutional stability is achieved, the social conflicts of past decade are overcome, in the government of Arturo Alessandri Palma, and arises the advent of the Popular Front with Pedro Aguirre Cerda, where the Radical Pax is established.

Hardy Wistuba, Amanecer en Duao (1996)
Hardy Wistuba, Amanecer en Duao (1996)

The country begins a stage of progress in economic, social, and cultural aspects, and is in this decade where I want to highlight the presence of the Pinacoteca Turina Gallery, funded by Isabel Antonieta Turina who initially began working in the beveled, mirrors and frames factory, called “La Nacional” with houses in Punta Arenas and Osorno.

In 1942 she relocated to Santiago and founded the Gallery on Moneda 864 Street, with a large area extending up to the church Las Agustinas. In 1962 it’s relocated on Huérfanos 686, promoting and disseminating the established national artists of visual arts.

In its halls welcomed artists like Manuel Casanova Vicuña, artists of the ‘28s generation like Ana Cortés, artists of the ‘40s generation like Fernando Morales Jordan, Carlos Pedraza, Sergio Montecino and the watercolor painters Hardy Wistuba and Israel Roa.

Israel Roa en su taller (1950)
Israel Roa in his workshop (1950)

The labor of the Pinacoteca Turina gallery was important and sustained, with a history of 53 years between 1942 and 1995, which represents a milestone in the Chilean history of galleries.

In 1945 opened The Pacífico hall, in the underground of the Pacífico library, where were works of artists like Camilo Mori, Sergio Montecinos, Victor Carvacho, Mario Carreño y Waldo Vila. In those years also opened the Le Caveaux hall, also in the underground of the library, where exhibits of ‘28s generation were held.

In 1948 opened the Negra hall (Black Hall) located in the underground of Los Gobelinos store, this hall was maintained with the sales of the Proarte magazine, with a batch of 20.000 copies and promoted artists of the ‘40s generation.

In this period many small galleries were opened like the Dédalo Gallery inaugurated with a sample of Chilean surrealists with the participation of works of Matta and the writer Braulio Arenas. A second project of the gallery was conducted by Carmen Waugh who later will found her own gallery in 1955. The history of this space began as a frame store later becoming an art gallery.

This will be opened with a collective exhibit with the works of Mario Toral, José Balmes, Gracia Barrios, Ricardo Irarrázabal, Carmen Silva and Nemesio Antúnez.

José Balmes, Proyecto para un retrato (1967)
José Balmes, Proyecto para un retrato (1967)

In the sixties the art gallery scene changes, most of them are located in the historical foundations of Santiago, in the perimeter of Santa Lucía hill, Parque Forestal, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

In 1968, the gallery owner Fidel Angulo founded his Gallery in the Victoria Subercaseaux Street, on the side of the Santa Lucía hill. This centric gallery promotes the works of artists of the ‘40s Generation and later, like Sergio Montecino, Augusto Barcia, Ximena Cristi, Mireya Larenas and Israel Roa. Renowned artists were the focus and the theme of preference was landscapes, still-life, and portraits, favoring the “painting aesthetic”.

Sergio Montecino, Rastrojo (1994)
Sergio Montecino, Rastrojo (1994)

In the 70s decade is when the Gallery owners became private and the national art business started to develop more smoothly.

That same decade the Galería de Bolsillo is founded, on Providencia and run by Luz Pereira and later relocated in Santa Lucía Street with the name Galería CAL (Latino American art center), becoming the first gallery who worked with young artists with an experimental approach towards art, in turn, becoming a place to aesthetic reflection.

The line of the exhibitions considered Young artists of the time like Carlos Altamirano, Juan Domingo Dávila, the poet Raúl Zurita and the National Art Prize, Eugenio Dittborn. Vanguard artists who would give origin to the future art collectives of our country.

Eugenio Dittborn, Pintura aeropostal N°152
Eugenio Dittborn, Pintura aeropostal N°152

On the other hand, Bucci Gallery, founded by the Italian immigrate Enrico Bucci on May 1975, located in the core of historic district of Santiago, on the foot of the Santa Lucía hill, with a emblematic exhibit: Homenaje al Norte Grande (Homage to the Great North), with the participation of academic career in the national arts like the National Art Prize Israel Roa, the watercolor painter Hardy Wistuba, Fernando Morales Jordan and the Jesuit priest Gustavo Le Paige with his paintings of Africa and San Pedro de Atacama.

In December 1978, The Bucci Gallery inaugurates a house in the city of Arica with a collective of artists, including Braulio Arenas, a drawing of Claudio Bravo, Israel Roa, Sergio Stitchkin, micro-paintings of Ramón Vergara Grez and Pablo Vidor.

Ramón Vergara Grez, Indoamericalatina (1996)
Ramón Vergara Grez, Indoamericalatina (1996)

The presence of the Bucci Gallery in the northern city of Arica lasted 5 years, promoting the national artists and holding exhibits of paintings via agreements with the universities of Chile and the northern regions with houses in the cities of Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta.

In the 70s galleries were starting to become serious business with private entrepreneurs taking notice, betting, promoting and generating instances of marketing towards art.

As a result of the economic growth experienced by the country in the 80s began a boom of private interest working to spread and market art, also generating new waves of aesthetic thought.

In this period the galleries were located in neighborhoods like Bellavista, were galleries such as La Fachada, El Cerro, La Casa Larga  -former gallery owned by Carmen Waugh which began working with that name up until 1986 when the gallery owner returned to the country- and the Arcos de Bellavista gallery, this operated under management of the School of Arts of Universidad Católica de Chile.

In Providencia operated the galleries Sur and Plástica 3, on the Mulato Gil Square, in Lastarrria neighborhood, an important cultural center was opened with the Museo de Artes Visuales (Plastic Arts Museum), and the house of Restauración (Restoration) of Miguel Campos Larenas and the working galleries such as Arte Actual and La Plaza.

In the 90s, galleries were relocated to the Vitacura neighborhood with a better gallery project, where the need for big spaces to exhibit is high and locations were built with the exhibitions of art in mind. The products of this were the galleries Isabel Aninat and Artespacio, with the intention of promoting contemporary sculptures.

Isabel Aninat Gallery

Galería Artespacio
Galería Artespacio

In the year 2000 were opened the galleries Animal, Ana María Stagno, Malbourough, Cecilia Palma, Galería Matthei, and the galleries 13, La Sala, Praxis, and Artium, thus, creating an important place for galleries to allocate their efforts to sell and market works of art.

Virtual galleries and Art Fairs

In the decade of the 2000 galleries were starting to get into a vigorous dynamic as a result of the boom and development of technology, many galleries began to work with their artists online, creating, in this way, a new instance of promoting artworks.

The online galleries have already replaced the physical locations to present themselves in another way, they are in social networks, hosted, showing their artists via virtual exhibits, they listen to the demands of their artists –who ask to exhibit themselves in their spaces- promoting them with their public, get a hold of the press and mass media to have a presence in the national art movement.

How is the dynamic of online galleries? The gallery is available at any hour, it can be visited from anywhere and it goes where the artist is, museum director, critic and/or collector, visiting them in their locations of work, becoming at the same time, an open window to the public and the artists’ fans thanks to the speed and smoothness of access to the gallery activity.

This is a new way to opérate, of getting a hold of the art-interested audience, a new way to operate, without nullifying the traditional work of galleries, working on their physical locations, because they can complement themselves with pretty good results.

Art Fairs

Bienal de Venecia 2017Biennale of Venecia 2017

As a product of the broadening into social and commercial networks of the contemporary work, a more aggressive gallery work has been developed where the territorial and regional limits are broken.

The Gallery owners positioned in the middle are part in biennales and art fairs, such as the Biennale of Venecia in Italy, the Biennale of Sao Paulo in Brazil, the Arco Madrid fair in Spain, Art Cologne, Fiac Paris in France, Art Basel Miami and The Armory Show in New York.

In Latin America the Gallery work has been arranged being part of fairs like Cha.co in Chile, organized by the gallery directors of Afa gallery, ArteBa In Argentina, ArtBo in Colombia and ArtLima in Peru.

This allows several exchanges of contacts by sending the artists abroad and the participation in seminaries, presentations, and debates hosted in the fairs with different art topics. Thus, creating an enriching dynamic with the participation of gallery owners, artists, art collectors, and the general public.

Online galleries in Santiago

In Santiago, there are 3 locations that stand out operating online only.

Arte Al Límite
Arte Al Límite

Arte Al Límite

Arte Al Límite is a medium dedicated to spreading contemporary art in three ways or main platforms:

1) A webpage that spreads the artistic activity in Chile and Latin America.

2) The publication of specialized magazines spreading the works of national and international artists.

3) As a book publisher aimed to expose artists in a sectioned and thematic way.

Montecatini Gallery

This Gallery is one of the pioneers in online platforms, their main goal as an online gallery has been promoting and spreading contemporary artists from Chile abroad.

An important event related to this gallery was in the year 2000, the first national competition of funds, promoted by Prochile, Montecatini Gallery awarded an exportation program whose main objective is to promote contemporary artists of the 7th Region and in the same vain include Chile in other markets by promoting their artists.

This initiative took into account 4 exhibitions in Costa Rica, New York, Jamaica and Miami in the Durban Gallery.

Galería MontecatiniBucci Gallery

The Bucci Gallery operated in its four locations in Huérfanos 526 Street in the core of the historic neighborhood of Santiago located at the feet of Santa Lucía hill until May 2003 closing their locations definitively. Thus, began to work in the idea of an online gallery connected with the cyberspace as a laboratory of ideas and artistic proposals.

In May 2006 was launched the Online Bucci Gallery project with the presence of 38 artists promoted in Chile and abroad, following a line of “open exhibit” and focusing in the works of innovative artists with unseen proposals, supporting dedicated artists in our national medium and young artists.

It’s a space of online exhibit where the art market works, a place to discuss aesthetic and worried about promoting national art, which they think is a transcendent value of our national culture and identity.



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