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Art in Chile

Chile is an unmatched force in the arts. It boasts rich architecture, painting and sculpture, as well as literature, with such heavyweights as Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende. Against such oppressive odds as devastating earthquakes and the Pinochet dictatorship, Chilean art has fought an arduous battle for its current position as a rescuer and preserver of history and tradition, and as a platform for progress in contemporary culture.



Although Chile is not known for its modern-day architecture, its colonial era treasures are worth noting. To name but a few, the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago, the Iglesia San Francisco and the World Heritage mansions in Valparaiso have withstood the damages of time and natural disasters. Historically, Chilean towns were set up with a center square, town hall and church. But there are few ancient examples, however, as some were rebuilt in the 19th century after having been destroyed by earthquakes or wealthy individuals seeking French or American-style architectural designs.


Painting and Sculpture

While traditional 19th-century Chilean paintings by the likes of Juan Francisco González, Alberto Valenzuela Llanos and Pablo Burchard are honored, it is contemporary art from the 1900s and onwards that gives Chile domestic and international recognition. Roberto Matta was one of Chile’s most celebrated artists, a leader in the Surrealist movement as well abstract expressionism of the 1940s. Some of Matta’s works can bee seen at the Museo de Artes Visuals (Museum of Visual Arts) in Santiago.


Post-Pinochet Art

Finally free from a dictatorship which exiled and even murdered some of its most talented contributors, the Chilean artistic community is flourishing. Contemporary art does not look to the past and point fingers; rather, it offers views of a more positive future. While artists do create intense expressions of oppression, they focus more on issues of economy, religion and identity. This art playfully mocks consumerism and the free market, and addresses subjects which are no longer off-limits, such as gender, poverty and sexuality.


As part of this desire to inspire positive growth and change, new forms of creative art have emerged throughout Chile. Mixed media, found art, and various artistic ecological movements are growing in popularity. The new forms inspire a mix of traditional and modern culture, embracing the land and evoking ancient Chilean civilizations, identities and attitudes. Present-day artists involved in the modern movements include: Zinnia Ramírez, Leo Moya, Norma Ramí¬rez, Carlos Montes de Oca and Andres Vio. Their works are displayed internationally, and also are frequently shown at Chilean museums such as the Museo de Arte Moderno in Santiago.



Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Isabel Allende, Chilean Cinema, Dance, Theater and Comedy in Chile and Music in Chile.

By Margaret Rode
A self-professed city girl, sassy staff writer Margaret Rode hails from Chicago where she received Bachelor degrees in English Literature and Spanish...
06 Jul 2009

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