Many of the countries in Latin America offer a rich artistic heritage, dating back to the days of the Olmec civilization, whose jade figurines got the ball rolling in the creation of ceremonial temples long before the arrival of European colonizers to the Americas, stretching all the way down to the modern era, with, for instance, the raw talent displayed in the murals of Diego Rivera. In between we can see many more examples of tribal and native art, with indigenous tribes and civilisations that have come and gone, which were then eclipsed by the Spanish settlers in the area and the other nationalities which came along with them.
The history of Latin American art includes ancient traditions and modern expressions, which are often used in conjunction with one another despite the paradox that it would seem to create. The result is a vibrant, colorful, and revolutionary artistic landscape that is rich in meaning and full of intriguing symbolism, as well showcasing a lot of fierce pride in the countries that the artists are from or the heritage that they associate with. A lot of the art here, too, has something to do with the past of the country, which is a common thread that runs through a lot of work created through the ages. Many passions are often represented in art – the lover will paint his mistress, the father will take a picture of his children, and the patriot might write a song about his country, and so forth – and this means that when we look at the art of a particular country as a whole, we can see what the concerns and passions of people living there throughout history have been. This is very important in terms of understanding a set of people in social and cultural terms, and can certainly aid your understanding of the way that the language is used too!
Latin America’s most famous artists both attract and fascinate us, with work that is totally different to what we might see in Europe and then again may have a lot of similarities when looked at in certain ways. The circumstances surrounding the lives of many of these artists during the creative process that went into putting together their most celebrated works played a vital role in their completion; an example of when life becomes art and art becomes life. Therefore, it is often very interesting to actually learn about the artists themselves and what their background was – and indeed, in the modern era, what kind of political affiliations they had, as well as what their reasons were for putting together their own art in a certain way. When you learn about their lives you can also end up learning a lot about the history of the region which they came from, and this in turn will inform your cultural knowledge – so it can be a great tool in helping you to understand the people of a nation and what kind of heritage they come from.