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The Story of Latin American Art

by Luiz Centenaro February 11, 2018

The Story of Latin American Art

Latin Art has a deep history rooted in telling the story of the culture. The three distinct cultures Indian, European, and African have shared historical experiences of slavery and imperialism. And today, with underdevelopment, environmental degradation, poverty, and inequality have had a massively impact the artists in this region. Coastal regions and landmarks also play a part in influencing artists, regardless of the spoken language or the region, as rolling mountains and sprawling rainforests are sources of great inspiration to artists, even today.

This makes the region not only geographically diverse but culturally diverse and their artistic expression in Latin Art is a representation of this and the influences from Europeans and travelers.

Where Did Latin Artists Get Their Influence?

The Story of Latin American Art

Colonialism was brought by the Spanish who were trying to convert the native people to Christianity. They destroyed the Indian’s cultural landmarks and temples and built churches. Classism, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism were brought to Latin Art in several ways.

Neoclassicism was imposed by the Europeans and was used to depict indigenous people in an idealized and simplified ways. Romanticism was brought by foreign travelers who used the flamboyant style to try to depict what they saw visiting the country. Native artists who studied abroad or who did not have the opportunity to study abroad, also wanted to depict their versions of the beauty of their homeland from the Indian populations to the native plants and animals which was done in a new form of Romanticism since they were no longer only having to depict important men from history, but every day people.

The Modern Latin Art Movement

The Story of Art Latina

At the turn of the 20th century, many Latin American artists began to move away from realistic styles and to develop looser, more spontaneous artistic techniques that expressed greater emotion. Scholars applied the Spanish term Modernismo. Modernismo referred to a Hispanic literary movement favored poetic, innovative metaphors and sensuous imagery over realistic description. This highly aesthetic art utilized exaggerated line and color. In many ways, it turned away from a conscious emphasis on a Latin American identity and looked inward to the emotions and creativity of the artists.

Moving away from Expressionism, Latin artists sought to use the modern styles of Cubism and Futurism to express the urban experience of their rapidly growing Latin American cities. The Abstract Art movement began to grow in Latin America as artists combined simplified figures with geometric shapes and bright colors.

In the 1960’s, they began to use figure painting as a way to express the widespread suffering of contemporary life. In the following decades, distinctive styles of figure painting existed side by side. Artists painted realistic images with hidden political commentaries, satirical works featuring comically plump figures, and some artists even developed an expressionistic quality to their figures.

The Future of Latin Art

The Story of Latin American Art

Modern Latin Art artists have been exposed to a vast, global culture. They get inspiration from styles from all over the world that they use to define and tell the stories of their people and culture. A living and constantly evolving field of study, Latin American art will continue to surprise you with its multifaceted and multilayered history.

Creative responses of artists to complex, shared realities that have been influenced by colonial and modern histories, repressive governments, economic crises, and social inequality, is what continues to define Latin Art today.

The current periods of development, wealth, and progress and how artists are representing these events are what make Latin Art so interesting and genuine.

Luiz Centenaro
Luiz Centenaro