Elena Izcue

Lima-Paris in the 30's


Elena Izcue (1889-1970) played a significant role 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 repertoire of images and symbols, which is currently in fashion within Peru's visual culture.

As a student at the National Art School in Lima during the great archaeological discoveries of the 1920s, 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 seeking to establish its national artistic identity. Moreover, it demonstrated 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 début in the glamorous world of fashion.


120 pages • 24 x 26 cm • 14 €
Co-published by musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac / Flammarion 2008
ISBN: 9782081212831