Argentine Pre Hispanic and Colonial Art

(Photo by Historias de Cronopios)

Argentina is well known for its strong artistic identity and its history, as far back as prehistoric times, is reflected in its art.

The oldest registers of art in Argentina are the many cave paintings that remain throughout the country in the provinces of Salta, San Luis, Tucumán, Jujuy, La Rioja, San Juan, La Pampa, Cordoba, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz. The most famous of these is the Paleolithic Cueva de las Manos (Hands Cave),which is in the Santa Cruz province and has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Later art work by indigenous groups also spanned across the country but mostly flourished in the Northern region, which was the most developed prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.  The materials used in the North, mostly in Salta and Catamarca, were ceramic, metal and textiles on which geometric figures, and both realistic and fantastic representations of humans and animals were engraved. Many of these relics can be seen at the stunning Archeology Museum in La Plata.

With the colonization of America, European style art was introduced. During the early settlements the artwork was mostly religious, with the intention of Christianizing the local indigenous people.

Jesuit painters worked in the Rio de la Plata city (known today as Buenos Aires), Tucuman and Paraguay, and not only incorporated religious paintings and sculptures, but gave the locals artistic education. German Jesuit Florian Pauke’s watercolors of the Argentine colonial period remain as a testimony of the time.

A few years later there was a great influx of foreign artists amongst which Emeric H Vidal, Carlos Pellegrini and Cesar Hipolito Bacle’s work stand out. These artists paved the way for the nineteenth century artists that would define the new Argentine art.

The Museo Hispanoamericano Isaak Fernandez Blanco has an interesting collection of art from the colonial period. Suipacha 1442, Downtown. 4327 0228.

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