The Boundaries of Race, the Boundaries of Represention

Abstract

This paper argues that Alfredo Guido’s Chola Desnuda deconstructs the conventional iconographies of mestizaje and evinces the racial tensions of early twentieth-century Argentina, a period defined by a whitening and modernizing project. Given Guido’s acquaintance with Western art since he studied with the Italian artist Mateo Casella and graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts, this essay compares Guido’s canvas to the two pictorial traditions which are referenced therein. First, a comparison with casta paintings sheds light on how Guido built an iconography of mestizaje upon colonial representations of racial difference in the Americas. Second, the Chola’s visual relationship with Orientalist and modernist nudes further denotes the capacity of this canvas to undermine the ability of the viewer to distinguish whiteness from Otherness, challenging the boundaries of representation and racial denomination.

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