Leonel Góngora was born in Cartago, Colombia on December 19, 1932 and studied at Escuela de Bellas Artes, Bogota, Colombia, and with Max Beckman at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. In 1959 he traveled to Europe, living in Italy. From 1960 to 1963 he lived in Mexico City and was a founding member of Nueva Presencia,and Salon Independiente. He moved to New York City in 1963 and shortly after moved to Amherst and became a professor of painting at the University of Massachusetts for 30 years. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico; the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts; the Houston Art Museum in Houston, Texas; the Museo Nacional in Bogota, Columbia; and the New York Public Library in New York among others. He died in 1999.