Collection

Oscar Curtino (1938 - 1994)

Cristóbal Colón (1966)
Christopher Columbus

Ink on paper
height: 53cm
width: 76cm
Drawing

Donated by Marcos Curi 1993

4-1993

Oscar Curtino's Cristobal Colón shows the story of the Genoese seafarer who, with the support of the Spanish crown, led three ships across the Atlantic and unwittingly encountered the Americas. In the form of a satirical storyboard or cartoon Curtino comments on the consequences of the encounter between Columbus and his men and the indigenous inhabitants of the 'New World'. In the top row, from right to left: having contemplated his expedition Columbus reaches his destination and offers the indigenous people a mirror and wristwatches, objects of a kind not seen before in the Americas. He then sails off to new lands, leaving behind him bundles of goods that foreshadow the subsequent economic exploitation of the continent by Europe and the United States.

In the lower part of this drawing Curtino plays on the stereotypical idea of American Indians (so-called because Columbus mistakenly thought that he had reached India) as wild savages by portraying the Spaniards as equally brutal, fighting amongst themselves and slavering over their treasures as they show them to the King of Spain. This brutality is echoed in the orange-red wash of this section that contrasts with the untainted yellow 'sunshine' of the drawing's upper section. The division of the drawing into individual scenes and their ordering from right to left and top to bottom recalls the traditional format and reading order of native Mexican pictorial manuscripts, or codices, perhaps therefore implying that Curtino is showing the moment of European and American contact from an indigenous perspective.

Joanne Harwood, 2008

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