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High School: People on Fire by Guillermo Kuitca (Art Card)

Guillermo Kuitca (Argentine, born 1961), People on Fire, 1993, acrylic and graphite on canvas, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, New York

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About the Artist

Guillermo Kuitca is an artist who lives and works in Argentina. He makes paintings that reference maps, memory, and migration.


About the Art

Kuitca’s series People on Fire employs the visual vocabulary of maps and charts to explore a bleak human terrain. This work presents us with randomly placed names in what might at first glance look like a genealogical chart. These names, however, turn out to be the names of people who have “disappeared,” persons who were kidnapped or murdered by paramilitary forces during the Argentinean dictatorship of the 1970s.


Look Closely

  • What do you see first? What do you see next?
  • What does the artwork resemble to you? Why?
  • What does the work make you wonder?



Kuitca is fascinated by maps and charts as metaphors for locating oneself in a place.

  • Why do you think the artist used people’s names instead of city names on this map?
  • Why do you think some names are blank?
  • Roads connect cities. What do you think the lines connecting people might represent?
  • People on Fire symbolically represents events that occurred in Argentina in the 1970s. Can you think of a current event in which you could incorporate similar mapping strategies to tell a story of a place? What is it? Why would a mapping approach work?



Kuitca’s work uses elements from mapmaking to show the connections between people.

  • What might a map of your connections to people look like?
  • How might you use shape, line, and color to represent the people in your life and the types of connections you have?
  • How might you show emphasis in certain relationships?
  • How might this map reflect your identity?


Learn More

Visit the “Learn More” sidebar to find more information about the work of art and artist and find other works of art that relate to the subject matter, media, and techniques used by the artist.