Violeta Parra’s Visual Art: Painted Songs

Lorna Dillon

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This book explores Violeta Parra’s visual art, focusing on her embroideries (arpilleras), paintings, papier-mâché collages and sculptures. Parra is one of Chile’s great artists and musicians, yet her visual art is relatively unknown. Her fusion of complex imagery from Chilean folk music and culture with archetypes in Western art results in a hybrid body of work. Parra’s hybridism is the story of this book, in which Dillon explores Parra’s ‘painted songs’, the ekphrastic nature of her creations and the way ideas translate from her music and poetry into her visual art. The book identifies three intellectual currents in Parra’s art: its relationship to motifs from Chilean popular and oral culture; its relationship to the work of other modern artists; and its relationship to the themes of her protest music. It argues that Parra’s commentaries on inequality and injustice have as much resonance today as they did fifty years ago.

Dillon outlines the convergence between Parra’s art and the work of other modern twentieth-century artists, considering its links to Surrealism, Pop Art and the Mexican Muralism Movement. Parra exhibited in open-air art fairs, museums and cultural centres as well as in prestigious venues such as Museu de Arte Moderna do Brasil and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. This book reflects on Parra’s socially-engaged work as it was expressed through her exhibitions in these centres as well as in through own cultural centre La carpa de la reina.

The research was carried out at the Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda in Chile, at the Museo Violeta Parra in Chile at the Casa de la Cultura in Cuba and at the BBC Written Archives in England. It includes rare archival material from the MAM Rio in Brazil; the Kansan Arkisto in Finland and the BBC Written Archives.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages149
ISBN (Electronic)9783030384074
ISBN (Print)9783030384067
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 13 Oct 2020


  • Violeta Parra
  • Arpilleras
  • Surrealism
  • Pop Art
  • Chilean Popular Art
  • Folk Culture
  • Latin American Art


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