La Boca, located at “the mouth” of the Riachuelo river, is a vibrant neighborhood in Buenos Aires known for its bohemian artists, passionate soccer fans, and skilled tango artists. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, La Boca served as the primary port of entry for European immigrants, particularly those from Italy and Spain. The new settlers struggled, hoped, and celebrated in this rough-and-tumble barrio.
In the 1950s, artist Quinquela Martín led a revival of El Caminito and La Boca. After studying drawing at a La Boca night school, he became one of Argentina’s most famous painters. When the General Roca railway train line, which ran through the area, shut down in 1954, Martín set to work to save the barrio. He gathered neighbors to paint the houses bright colors, emulating the early immigrants. The artists began to host theater here, utilizing the colorful houses as part of the backdrop.
Thanks to Martín’s urging, in 1959 the city government officially declared the street El Caminito an open-air museum. Today, visitors can enjoy the colorful houses and street performers while taking in the history and culture of this iconic neighborhood.
10 paintings to appreciate Quinquela Martin