Current Institutional Affiliation
Faculty Member, Art History, Universidad Mayor de Chile

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture, State University of New York (SUNY) / Stony Brook University
Contesting Nationalism: Analyzing Pictorial Genres in 19th Century Chilean Painting

Focusing on the art of Chile, my research proposal aims to analyze the pictorial genres of landscape, portraiture, history painting, and costumbrismo throughout the nineteenth century. The main goal of this research is to examine two different and simultaneous processes that informed the development of Chilean painting. The first relates to how certain visual practices were transformed, contested or maintained in the course of independence from Spain, and pays special attention to the hybridization of pictorial conventions and their transformation by the Chilean state and its elite into “national imaginaries.” The second explores a different kind of colonialism engendered after the fall of Spanish rule. This secondary process, exercised by several European powers, had a cultural emphasis. This “cultural colonialism” was more subtle, pervasive, and effective because it offered—through transoceanic migrations of people, objects, and imaginaries—a promise of civilization, cosmopolitanism, and the disappearance of those real and imaginary boundaries that separated the ex-colonies from the metropolis. By examining the roles given to painting, comparing techniques and thematic choices, analyzing pictorial genres in relation to prints and photographs rendering similar subjects, as well as paying attention to production processes, routes and strategies of circulation, I will confront the paradoxes of these two postcolonial processes in the midst of the state-formation period. I maintain that by interrogating the nature of Chilean nineteenth century painting it is possible to find traces of colonial discourses that have not been acknowledged in the past, discourses that permeate the “national” and “republican” readings that have traditionally been given to this art. I hope to challenge readings that even today, in the context of the celebration of the bicentennial independence of Chile from Spanish domination, have not acknowledged the colonial legacy of Chilean pictorial genres.