Tribute to Sofía Imber

 

Sofía Imber, (Rumania, 1924 – Caracas, 2017) 
Journalist, Art Critic and Museum Director.

 
 

The decisive participation of Sofía Ímber in the development of journalism, art criticism and Venezuelan cultural institutions make her one of the most influential figures in the contemporary history of the country and Latin America. With an attractive personality, inimitably controversial style, radical and exemplary commitment to work and critical acuity when interpreting creative and social processes, she carried out the necessary transformations to bring the country's museums to a level of quality marked by excellence in the formation of collections and communicational and educational activities.

 

The pioneering work of Sofia allowed to open the way for Venezuelan women in fields previously not traveled. She was the first woman journalist, the first director of a section of Cultural Pages in the press, first host of an opinion program on television and the first director of a museum in Venezuela. Through the creation and direction of her main accomplishment, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas Sofia Imber, in 1974, she changed the methods of conducting museums and cultural institutions in the country, stressing the importance of the quality of exhibitions, the achievement of excellence, the formation of an unrivaled collection, education programs and the overall communicative, innovative and integrating spirit of the MACCSI. Her contributions are not limited to the journalistic and cultural spectrum, but Sofia Imber is an example in the defense of the essential values ​​of the definition of the human being and work for freedom and democracy.

   

 

Born in Soroca (Romania) on May 8, 1924, the daughter of Naum Ímber and Ana Barú, with whom she arrived in Venezuela in 1930. She calls herself a "survivor", because when her parents fled from The Bolsheviks, the economic situation was not ideal to receive a new member in the family. She says: "When I was born, no one wanted me, and my father, who was not at all religious, said one fine day: ‘God gave her to us and God must take her from us’, but my mother did not want this,  fed me with teaspoons of tea. It turns out that I survived. "

 

Her sister Lya, born in 1914, and she was the first woman to graduate as a doctor in Venezuela.

 

Sofía Imber studied Journalism in Caracas and obtained a degree in the forties. In The exercise of her profession there, by means of collaborations with national and international publications, but also, by entering The television industry with a pioneering program of opinion, as far as Venezuelan journalism is concerned.

She wrote for the newspapers El NacionalÚltimas Noticias and 2001; magazines such as EliteMoment and Kena, in Venezuela. Sshe also collaborated with El Tiempo, from Colombia; The Nation, of Argentina; and El Excelsior, from Mexico.  In 1946 she moved to Bogotá (Colombia) to work in The Saturday magazine, under the supervision of Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza Neira.

 

Near The fifties, she changed residence again and settled in France. Later she lived in Belgium, where her first husband, Guillermo Meneses, exercised a diplomatic role. From this marriage four children were born: Sarah, Adriana, Daniela and Pedro Guillermo. In Europe she carried out intense contacts with the artistic world, including figures unknown at the time, such as Vasa rely and Schöffer, among others. Also, she met a group of Venezuelan plastic artists, called "Los Disidentes", based in Paris, who would later give international renown to Venezuela.

 

As a result of the mixture between the two fields she dominates, in the sixties she founded, together with Meneses, the magazine Crítica, Arte y Literatura (CAL) and went on to chair the International Association of Art Critics. Afterwards, she was part of The Board of Directors of The Museum of Fine Arts, while serving as Director of Variety magazine.

 

In 1969, she premiered on the television screens of the country, through channel 8 (Venezolana de Televisión), her "Good morning" program, in which she interviewed, together with her second husband, Carlos Rangel, renowned personalities from the national and international levels. This new information space lasted more than twenty years, during which it was broadcast on various national channels. At The same time, it carried out educational segments, such as "Only for adults", which was broadcasted at night. In 1976 she started the television program "Sólo con Sofía", which remained in the air until 1982.

 

Her outstanding work as a social communicator earned her, in 1971, the first National Journalism Prize awarded to a woman in Venezuela. That same year she published her autobiography, entitled: I, the intransigent.

 

Between 1975 and 1996 she was director of the cultural pages of the newspaper El Universal. This work was shared with the direction of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas, a task she had assumed since 1973, when she founded this cultural center, which took her name from 1990 to 2006 when it was arbitrarily withdrawn by the government. The space has been recognized for hosting the most important art collection in Latin America, which includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Segal, Moore, Rivers, Botero, Miró, Braque, among others.

 

In 1991 she became producer and host of the radio space "La Venezuela posible". And five years later she returned to television as a producer and host of the program "Sofía", broadcasted by CMT, in which she interviewed personalities from the political and cultural areas in Venezuela.

 

In 1997 Unesco awarded her the Picasso Medal, and this was the first time that such recognition was granted to a woman

 

In The year 2001, Sofía Ímber was removed from this position by President Hugo Chávez Frías.

 

In 2014 she donated her collection of art books to the library of the Andrés Bello Catholic University.

 

In 2016 her biography was published Mrs. Imber with the authorship of Diego Arroyo.

 

She died in Caracas, on February 20, 2017.