A Cultural Convergence
Artist/maker unknown (Bolivian)
Oil on canvas with decorative gilding
Museo Nacional de Arte, La Paz, Bolivia
Indigenous skills such as feather-painting and weaving continued, while European artists traveled to the Americas to both ply their own trade and train native craftsmen. For all the violence of conquest and domination of the New World, many native artists survived the transition, adapting their traditions and techniques to those of European masters. These indigenous forms and methods not only survived with remarkably sophisticated evolutions, but were also transformed into nimble innovations to meet new requirements and purposes.
Colonial societies in Latin America developed with a fluidity and an energy quite different from those of the North American colonies of the English, Dutch, and French. Initially, members of Spanish and Portuguese aristocracy were imported to rule native peoples, but thereafter a generic evolution of remarkable diversity quickly took over. Loosely defined as mestizaje, this mingling of race and social status became arguably the major defining character of much of Latin American life.