The story of Debora Arango, a great expressionist painter

The beginning | The importance of all her works | Her most outstanding achievements

Debora Arango is one of the Women in Colombian who has achieved more importance in the artistic world. Here we will tell you why she is one of the most important and controversial artists in the country.

The beginning of Debora Arango’s artistic career

The first thing to say is that she was born in 1907, in the city of Medellín. After having achieved her great artistic career, she was considered one of the most important Medellin women in history. To understand this, it is necessary to understand her story.

From a very young age, she believed in female empowerment. Arango believed that Colombian females were capable of doing the same activities as men. Therefore, even as a young girl, she decided to create controversial paintings, to the point that the League of Decency in Medellín almost excommunicated her for her “immoral” paintings (Cuerpo y Territorio, 2020).

Well, in 1946 Debora became interested in the fresco technique and began to study the history of Mexican watercolorists. To nurture her technique and improve her knowledge, she decided to travel to different countries, such as Mexico, the United States, England, France, and Spain.

In this country her artistic work caused controversy. In 1955, during Franco’s dictatorship, she presented an exhibition at the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica in Madrid. Therefore, the authorities withdrew all her works without any explanation (El País, 2015). This motivated her to return to Medellín, where she would consolidate herself as an artist. 

The importance of all her works

Arango stood out for being the first Colombian woman to paint nudes. At the time, this decision aroused controversy, as it was an activity reserved only for men. However, this is not all: all her work has also had a great political influence.

For example, she made portraits of renowned politicians in the shape of animals. The most iconic case was the one she achieved with La salida de Laureano, where the coup general Gustavo Rojas Pinilla is seen presiding over a chorus of toads (Universidad del Rosario, 2017).

In all cases, she excelled at generating emotions in the audience. Her favorite technique was a figurative expressionist. That is, she altered reality to convey a message, generally repudiating a certain political context or societal issues.

Her most outstanding achievements

She is considered one of the most important artists in the history of Colombia. In 2005, she received the Order of Boyacá, Colombia’s highest honor (Infobae, 2021). In addition, there are other important recognitions. Among them:

  • An art school in her name, in the municipality of Envigado.
  • Her image appears on the 2,000 Colombian peso banknote (Semana, 2016).
  • She has a series, known as “Debora, the Woman Who Undressed Colombia“.
  • Medal for Artistic and Cultural Merit.
  • Honorary Master of Arts and Letters from the University of Antioquia (Medellín Libraries, 2020).

In short, she proves that she was not only a Colombian beauty. Her artistic work has transcended throughout the country. Therefore, Debora Arango is one of the most important Colombian women in the world of painting.


Bibliotecas Medellín (2020, June 7). Débora Arango, una vida entre la censura y la libertad.

Cuerpo y Territorio (2020, October 30). Débora Arango, una época matizada con lujuria y subversión.

El País (2015, November 24). Débora Arango: historia de un olvido.

Infobae (2021, November 11). Débora Arango, la artista colombiana que aparece hoy en doodle en Google.

Semana (2016, November 28). Nuevo billete de $2.000 rinde homenaje a la artista Débora Arango.

Universidad del Rosario (2017, August 9). La pintura colombiana en los tiempos de la dictadura.