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Martín Chambi

Juan de la Cruz Sihuana, Cusco (formerly known as "Gigante de Paruro" [Giant of Paruro])

c. 1925–29, printed later

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In studio photographs taken throughout the nineteenth century, Indigenous Peruvians were often positioned in front of stylized floral backgrounds and directed to assume shy smiles, reflecting photographers’ attempts to portray Indigenous communities as innocent and passive. Martín Chambi, however, working in the early twentieth century, chose to present his models with greater transparency. Works such as this one, in which the poverty of the model is on full display, as evidenced by his torn and patched clothing, provoke many questions: How does one read an image so obviously posed? In this context, how does one respond to the obvious poverty or interpret the portrait as conveying an identity? [Permanent collection label, 2023]

  • Artist Martín Chambi (Peruvian, 1891–1973)
  • Title Juan de la Cruz Sihuana, Cusco (formerly known as "Gigante de Paruro" [Giant of Paruro])
  • Date c. 1925–29, printed later
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions sheet | 10 x 8 in.
  • Credit line Gift of Laurie Wilson, Robert Frerck, and family, 2015
  • Object number 426.2015
  • Currently on View Works on Paper Gallery

Martín Chambi and Edward Sheriff Curtis
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 11/11/2022

12/10/2015 Received at MLKAM; 12/30/2015 Deed of Gift signed by L. Wilson; 3/31/2016 ACC presentation
Robert Frerck (Chicago, IL)

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