Week Three

Towards the end of the Casta paintings article the author states that there are many questions still regarding “the circulation, patronage, and reception” of the paintings. While I agree that there is much still to be determined and confirmed, I think that some inferences can be made. The article already gives examples for the reception. Andres Arce y Miranda disliked the Casta paintings because of the portrayal of creoles– Mexican born Spaniards- as inferior. However, the Spaniards in Spain enjoyed the paintings. So, already we have a small insight into what some groups thought of the paintings. Unfortunately, not shared in the article (or even known?) is the reception the paintings had amongst the indigenous, “mestizo… mulattos…zumbos”, and black communities since their portrayals were quite offensive. I suppose this missing piece brings into play what we talked about before, in that only those with power are the ones whose point of view is shared.

The patronage of the paintings can also be somewhat inferred. The article mentions how anxious the Spaniards were with keeping “socio-racial hierarchy in colonial society”. The images in Casta paintings and the fact that they exist reflect their worries. Therefore, we cannot pinpoint exactly who commissioned the paintings and supported the artists who made them, but I suppose wealthy Spaniards wanted themselves to be shown as superior and were afraid that they were losing their power. Today in my geography lecture we briefly discussed a couple of ideas from Foucault, one essentially saying that those who have power are the ones that get to control knowledge/what people learn. The Spaniards are using their power/wealth to enforce a certain view of how they think the society should work. The paintings are also written about as if they were everywhere, so could they be seen as some type of propaganda? I suppose some questions I would want to discuss in class then would be: Can Casta paintings be defined as propoganda? What type of affect did they have on people’s mindset, if any? Did they help re-solidify the racial hierarchy? Did people use the paintings as examples of what they should strive to be like (within their class), or were they more of a threat/reminder as to where people ‘belonged’?

As well, to connect the article with the video lecture, the question of identity arises. It brings up the issue of the people of Latin America attempting to figure out how to label themselves/what to identify as. Although it is highly unlikely that the Casta paintings themselves contribute to this “anxiety about identity”, the class inequality that they represented and perpetuated surely do.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet