Elena Izcue

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Paris-Lima, in the 1930s

Elena Izcue (1889-1970) played a determining part in the rediscovery of pre-Columbian art in the 20th century, mainly through her work in the decorative arts.  She is a founding figure in the renaissance of this repertory of images and symbols, which is nowadays very present in the visual culture of Peru.

Within the context of the great archaeological discoveries of the 1920s, when she was studying at the National Art School in Lima, she engaged in a series of studies on pre-Colombian art forms. In 1926 she published El arte peruano en la escuela in Paris, with a view to teaching children about art. Her book was a great success, because it demonstrated a will to define a national aesthetic at a time when Peru was engaged in a search for its national artistic identity and it showed that this rediscovered art had aroused international interest. She moved to France in 1927 and began applying pre-Colombian motifs to textiles, which were soon a great success with European and American couture houses.  She then started travelling between Paris and New York in order to sustain the most important part of her work.

This publication has a wealth of illustrations and casts light on a neglected individual whose life throws up fascinating contrasts, from a thousand-years-old national culture and a passionate concern for education, to her studious entrée into the glamorous world of fashion.


120 pages in 20 cm x 26 cm format
ca. 100 illustrations
price : 14 €
isbn : 9782081212831

A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/ Flammarion

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exhibition curator

Natalia Majluf has been head curator of the Museo d'Arte de Lima, in Peru, since 2001 and is an acknowledged expert in the art of South America in the 19th and 20th centuries, and especially in the work of Elena Izcue.

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