Fine Art in Bolivia

Fine Art in Bolivia

Bolivia is an amazing place, rich in artistic traditions. You can find art anywhere in this South American country. The artistic masterpieces of the creative Bolivian people are exposed not only in museums, but also in traditional clothing, local craftwork, and the architecture. Bolivia has a complex history and culture, starting back in the pre-Columbian era with the Aymara people and continuing through to the Inca invasion and the subsequent Spanish conquest. 

Bolivian art is expressing well the cultural transformations brought by all these historical changes. Weaving practice in Bolivia goes back to ancient times. Today, the descendants of early indigenous people continue to practice the weaving traditions of their ancestors. Beautiful blankets, belts, hats, bags, shawls, and skirts are made of llama, alpaca, or sheep´s wool. They use symbols, designs, and colors. They tell distinct stories and have cultural significance, representative of communities and villages.   

Fine art in Bolivia played an important role in Bolivia’s history. Painting and sculpture were unknown to the indigenous people of Bolivia before the arrival of the Spanish. With the spreading of Christian faith, the earlier pieces have almost exclusively religious themes. In time the stylistic techniques and the subject matters started to change, as a fusion of Spanish and indigenous cultures. In a unique and original artistic style, the artists of 15th and 16th centuries portrait Christian figures and scenes incorporated in the Bolivian landscape. 

Painters of the 20th century, far from the European sphere of influence, choose local scenes and landscapes as their source of inspiration. In the 1930s decade the indigenist movement is spreading through South America and influences Bolivian art. The ongoing struggle of the indigenous population becomes the main theme of the paintings. In the present, fine art in Bolivia continues to express many of the themes from the colonization period.   Tourists can admire fine art in Bolivia at the Museo de la Recoleta, in the city called La Paz. The museum features sculptures and paintings from the 16th through 20th centuries, from a great number of painters. 

Among the masterpieces on display are included works by well-known painters such as Diego Quispe Curo and Juan Perez Villareal. Museo de la Racoleta exhibits magnificent wooden carvings dating back to the 1870s representing the martyrs who were crucified in 1595 in Nagasaki. Many anonymous sculptures and paintings exposed in the museum are various interpretations of St Francis of Assisi.  Works of Bolivian contemporary artists can be seen at the Museo del Arte Moderno. The museum is host of permanent exhibitions on Bolivian colonial artwork. 

The impressive collection includes pieces by Melchor Pérez Holguín, the master of baroque art in Bolivia. The museum also displays contemporary sculpture.  The Museo Nacional del Arte is housed in the former Palacio de Los Condes de Arana, in the city La Paz. This impressive building was finished in 1775 and is made of pink Viacha granite. The various levels of the museum are dedicated to different historical eras, from pre-hispanic artistic works to contemporary art. The emphasis of the works exposed is on religious themes. Among the artistic works on display are those of Paceño Marina Nuñez del Prado, a well-known Bolivian artist. The museum features regular temporary exhibitions on its ground floor.

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