Repositioning the Popular: The Hybrid Aesthetics of Violeta Parra’s Paintings Machitún, Las tres Pascualas, and Casamiento de negros

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Abstract

In the twentieth century, traditional practices and popular culture in Chile
went into decline. The situation was compounded by the fact that in the
plastic arts, there was already an established hierarchy in which art based
on traditional culture and crafts (artesanía) occupied a subordinate position.
The Chilean artist and folklorist Violeta Parra sought to disrupt this
paradigm. In this article I explore the way Parra sought to defend popular
culture through her visual art by creating paintings that were based on
traditional culture but were also extremely modern. There is a paradox inherent
in the modernism of Violeta Parra’s art and the way it sought to reposition
popular culture. On the one hand, Parra’s work was indigenous. It
counteracted the demise of traditional culture that was brought about by
modernism. On the other hand, her work was utterly hybrid. Violeta Parra’s
art enacted a revival of traditional culture through the fusion of a modernist
aesthetics with motifs and narratives from Chilean popular culture. To
explore the way Parra sought to redefine popular culture, I deconstruct the
subjects and visual syntax of the paintings Machitún, Las tres Pascualas, and
Casamiento de negros. I look at the resonance of her work, which arises from
the popular subjects she presents and the way her work disrupts hierarchies
in the field of cultural production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
JournalStudies in Latin American Popular Culture
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Violeta Parra
  • Violeta Parra's Art
  • Latin American art
  • Chilean art
  • folk art

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