Jean Charlot ( American; born France, 1898 - 1979 )
This painting references La Malinche, the indigenous woman who actively cooperated in the Spanish conquest of Mexico’s territory and Christianization of its population. The children in this scene wield swords and rattles, objects instrumental in the reenactment of Matachines dances performed in Mexico and the American Southwest. The central figure—a young indigenous girl dressed in a white communion dress and raising a sword above her head—is the body on which two traditions collapse and serves as symbols of the Catholic Church and its power. Children Playing bridges two important moments in Jean Charlot’s career as an artist: a composition and color palette he developed while living in Hawaii in the 1940s and iconography he first explored two decades earlier while living in Mexico.
Tower Gallery: Latin American Art, Label text, 2017.