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Art In Guatemala

Art can be found around every corner in Guatemala, from traditional weaving to spray-paint stained walls. Guatemala City hosts several art festivals throughout the year, while browsing boutiques in Antigua is a great way to spend the night.

Guatemala's rich art legacy dates back to murals and carvings made by the Mayans. If interested in these types of relics, check out the Museo Popol Vuh
 in Guatemala City, considered to house one of the world's best Mayan art collections. Guatemala City also has an entire museum dedicated to the traditional textiles of the Mayans, Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena, where the textiles from around 140 communities are on display.

Many artists produced great works during the colonial period as well, although most pieces were done anonymously. The Museo de Arte Colonial in Antigua houses a great deal of sculptures and paintings from this era, including many religious-themed works. Two famous painters from this period, Cristóbal de Villalpando (1649-1714) and Tómas de Merlo (1694-1739) are also represented here. Although Villaplando is Mexican, he did a substantial amount of work in Guatemala.

Another Guatemalan artist, Andrés Curruchich (1891-1969), is credited with pioneering the “primitivist” style of painting. Born in San Juan Comalapa, Curruchich was a Kaqchikel Mayan who depicted the daily lives of those around him in a very simple, easy-to-understand form. His colorful paintings are still romanticized, replicated and sold in markets today.

Carmen Petterson (1900-1991) used watercolors to paint the clothing styles of rural highland villagers. Although born in Guatemala, her parents were of mixed European and latin descent, and she painted in an obviously European-influenced style. Her work can be seen at the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena in Guatemala City.

Carlos Mérida (1891-1984), a contemporary of Pablo Picasso born to Maya and Zapotec parents, may be the most famous Guatemalan painter of all. Mérida's indigenista style of art can be found in several public buildings in Guatemala City, as well as at the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, which was named after him.

Today, weaving still reins king as Guatemala's primary craft. Traditional dress can be seen throughout the country, particularly in highland villages. Other popular crafts include jewelry making and wooden mask production. It is also not uncommon for each village to have a specialty, whether it be the woolen blankets of Momostenango, lacquered boxes of Totonicapán, or canvas replicas of Curruchich's paintings from his hometown, San Juan Comalapa.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: The Quetzal, Museums In Guatemala and Guatemalan Culture.

28 Jul 2010

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