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Latin American Paintings

The Europeans converted native Latin American peoples to Christianity by transmitting Christian teachings through art. A painting style, termed the Cuzco School, began at Cuzco and spread from there beginning in the 1500s through the 1700s. The imagery was traditional Christian material; for example: the Virgin, Christ on the cross, the Ascension.

At the same time Christianity was being disseminated, the Europeans enslaved colonial people as manpower for gold and silver mines. But in the 19th century, the South America erupted in nationalist movements that drove out colonial rule. As this happened, artists looked to their pre-Columbian cultural roots for imagery. New paintings ranged in subject from ancient Incan markings to scenes of women grinding corn.

Beginning in 1920 in Mexico, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros produced murals using Cubist and other European styles while celebrating Marxism and their own pre-colonial nationalism. Today, contemporary art production is very much alive in South America, from the production of first-rank works of art, to art fairs, to art biennials.

Quick Facts

  • Original José Clemente Orozco murals in North America can be seen at The New School for Social Research, New York, and at the Baker-Berry Library, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
  • On May 27, 2015, Phillips New York sold Latin American artist Leonora Carrington's "Bat-men (How true my love)," 1950, for $245,000
  • On May 22, 2012, Christie’s New York sold Fernando Botero's "The Arnolfini (After Van Eyck)," 1997, for $842,500

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