After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fileatado -- Pure Porteño

Nothing says Buenos Aires more than the decorative art of fileatado. This century-old design style is even more porteño than tango, with a similarly vague history including laws against it in the '70s. I love it because it's original, happy, elegant, colorful and fun.

Purely decorative, it used to be seen on signs, buildings, and especially, vehicles. Nowadays it's mainly found where tourists go. Fileatado serves as a neon arrow pointing to local tourist sights, particularly in San Telmo, La Boca, tango shows. Tourism can be thanked for reviving this unique art form. (And some say that tourism is saving the tango as well.)

The sign above I purchased in San Telmo in 1997 and took back with me to Los Angeles, carrying it to Mexico where I lived for several years, and then here to Buenos Aires. I just bought this one as is, but you can special order signs or plaques to say anything you want. They are perfect souvenirs because you won't find fileatado anyplace else.

You can read more on fileatado in The Argentimes, and find some history here, and if you're really into it, you can read Alfredo Genevose's definitive book pictured and linked below.


Nice and Easy Antiques said...

An art form that is disappearing with time...too bad! So beautiful!

Nancy said...

The carretas of Sarchi, Costa Rica use similar designs.

Katie said...

I love fileteado! Every once in a while you'll see it here in Necochea, but it's a rarity. I was thinking of custom ordering a piece for my stepdad's 50th birthday. He deserves a special gift!

juju ariel said...

Great post! I love these photos - thanks for the education in fileatado!

tangobob said...

Ha I have a sign outside my house (in Wales) bought from San Telmo, now everyone thinks my house is called "La Milonga" even those who tango. Just because I loved fileatado.