Fileteado, as porteño as tango

The finishing touches on milk carts in 19th century Buenos Aires were the hand-painted lines.  The artists later added decorations, and everything from buses to signs were being painted in this unique artform that originated and survives only in Buenos Aires.  There was a time when it wasn’t permitted, but in the last twenty years the masters have trained young artists to carry on the tradition.  Fileateado has returned and is flourishing once again.  There are no more than a few dozen who work and earn a living painting fileteado.

I wanted to give my partner a special gift for his birthday and met with Alfredo Martinez to discuss the sign I wanted him to paint.  He had it ready in a couple weeks.  My partner talked about a name for our milonga, so I had this hand-painted sign made.  It shows how the simple lines of fileteado on milk carts developed into elaborate decorations created by each artist.


One of the most impressive works by a fileteador was painted on the nude body of Guillermina Quiroga, who is well-known as a tango performer all over the world.  She is interviewed in the April 2009 issue of El Tangauta.

You probably don’t want to have your body painted, but there is no end to the objects which are being painted today by fileteadors.



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