Textual description of firstImageUrl

Chilean Art History and Sitemap

Chilean art refers to all kinds of visual art developed in Chile, or by Chileans, from the arrival of the Spanish conquerors to the modern day. It also includes the native pre-Columbian pictorial expression on modern Chilean territory.

Pre-Columbian art

Ceramics were the greatest artistic contribution of the northern peoples. These examples of Diaguita ceramics show this people's fascination with geometric figures.
Prehistoric painting in Chile, also called pre-Columbian Chilean painting, refers to any type of painting or painting technique used to represent objects or people during the period before the Spanish conquest.
Developed prior to the existence of written sources, study of this period is based on the material remains and vestiges of the cultures that developed.

Mario Irarràzabal | La Mano del Desierto / The Hand of the Desert, 1992

The beginning of pre-Columbian art in Chile coincided with the appearance of indigenous cultures in the territory, and ended around the start of the Spanish conquest of Chile around 1500AD. After this period, indigenous art was virtually eliminated by the Catholic community as part of the process of converting native people.
Prehistoric art is closely related to the cave paintings and petroglyphs developed during the prehispanic period, especially in the extreme North of Chile.


Art historian Luis Álvarez Urquieta was one of the first authors to raise the issue of pre-Columbian art in his book "Pintura en Chile" (Painting in Chile). The author explains that most of the painting developed before the arrival of the Spanish was done by the Atacameño and Araucano cultures, and also identified Diaguita and Inca influences.
The use of art in this time could be aesthetic, practical, ritual or religious, depending on the culture and the resources available. Animal figures and symbols abound but images of people did not appear unless they were important or had some magical significance for the tribe.

The cultural references varied depending on the area where the people lived. Northern cultures, like the Diaguita, preferred geometric figures and used pottery and petroglyphs extensively. The Mapuche people, based in the centre of the modern Chilean territory, were more focused on the rituals performed by the machi (the Mapuche shamans), as well as their gods and deities. They developed colourful ritual textiles, used by the machi, and pottery specifically designed for use in burials. Their designs did also include some northern influences.
In the far south, there is some evidence of petroglyph art but less than in the north. Notable among the southern cultures was the artwork of the Selknam people, also known as Ona, who decorated their bodies as part of a religious ritual.
Overall, prehistoric native art throughout the Americas was almost entirely destroyed by the Spanish conquerors, and Chile did not escape this. Some remains were preserved in the north, where, thanks to the preservative qualities of the arid Atacama Desert, certain objects of pictorial heritage value have survived preserved in time.

Colonial art

Chilean colonial art refers to art produced in the Chilean colonial period that extended from 1598 AD to 1810 AD. The period saw a mixing of European techniques with native cultural heritage.
Artistically, the period began around the mid-17th century and was led at first by the Spanish Jesuits and by working artisans who lacked specialized artistic training. It was directly influenced by European artistic trends such as Mannerism and Baroque, but, like all other Chilean culture that developed during this period, it was also influenced by native art and culture, creating a new style.
Art was seen as vital for the education and religious conversion of the indigenous people and played an important role in the transmission of Spanish dominance and Catholic world vision.


Colonial painting developed in a time when South American countries were not politically or geographically grouped as they are today and had not yet formed national identities, art and cultural individuality. Just as it is difficult for historians to define the indigenous art of each country, because there were no geographical demarcations or pictorial characteristics endemic to the modern territories, it is also difficult to speak precisely of Peruvian, Argentinian or Chilean colonial art.
Some countries, like Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, had their own art schools where local artists could work and study. Chile did not, however, because it did not represent a major interest for the Spanish government, so it relied on importing pieces from foreign art schools.
Overall, colonial painting in Chile and across all Latin America was influenced by Spanish art, which taught the anatomical study of bodies, the chiaroscuro style, and subjects clothed in aristocratic attire. For the Spanish conquerors, craft and artisan work was seen as demeaning and antithetical to nobility, so they chose to leave this work to the “mestizos” and native peoples, instead importing and admiring European art.

According to art historian Luis Álvarez Urquieta, Spanish painting of the time incorporated Asian influences as a result of Spanish trade with the far east. It is from here, he claims, that Spanish painting inherited its color palette, the expressionless faces of its subjects, and the profusion of golden shades. The same author also emphasizes the influence of indigenous people on Chilean art, which can be seen in the simplicity of the composition of religious scenes, as well as local traditions, customs and mannerisms represented in the paintings.
In the opinion of Álvarez Urquieta, technical skill was somewhat neglected in early colonial painting, with more importance given to the objects being painted and their educational use.
Most American colonial painting shows a lack of study of light and shade and poor use of perspective and proportion, though it has been praised for its liveliness and use of colour, as well as its documentary value in representing the social integration of the Spanish and American peoples.
Art historians Ivelíc and Galaz agree that painting in the early Americas lost some of the academic rigor and technique of Europe in the process of mixing with native styles, as Álvarez Urquieta has also claimed.

Main influences

Chilean artists primarily focused on religious themes, which were most in demand and therefore more lucrative. Religious paintings tended to be displayed in churches, cloisters and convents - their logical destination, considering that the majority were commissioned by members of the church or as donations to the church.
They are known for their lack of facial expression and proportion in their portrayal of human figures, and the lack of interest they show for subjects like landscape or nature.
The Compañía de Jesús (Jesuits) were one of the most influential religious groups, contributing to the expansion of the fine arts throughout Latin America as well as the monastic educational tradition.
The Jesuits were among the first to teach the native peoples European artistic techniques and worked to preserve the symbolism of the Christian artistic legacy. They also provided excellent conditions for the preservation of artwork (in churches, cloisters, etc.), until they were expelled from the Latin American territories by the Spanish authorities.
The Jesuits promoted and developed skills such as clock making, carpentry, silversmithing, sculpture and portrait painting. One such skilled Jesuit was Ignacio Andía y Varela, who would later sculpt the Spanish coat of arms that now sits upon Cerro Santa Lucía hill in Santiago, among other works.

Many of the colonial artworks preserved until present day by the Jesuits are found in their churches, such as the high altar at the San Francisco Church, Santiago de Chile which holds the Virgen Dolorosa (Virgin of Sorrow, 1576), one of the first colonial paintings ever produced in Chile.
San Francisco Church also holds another of the most important paintings of the period, the Genealogía de los Franciscanos (Genealogy of the Franciscans), an oil of over four meters length and width. The canvas has 644 small portraits, crowned by the Virgin Mary, and reads: "For the honour and glory of our Lord and the Holy Mother Church, this tree of the religion is dedicated to the parents of the order".
The artist who produced the work is anonymous, as decreed by the Jesuit code of humility, with only the date the work was finished included in the signature. Another notable Jesuit painting is the Mesa de la Cena (Supper Table, 1652), five meters high by three meters wide, which was formerly hung in the sacristy of Santiago Cathedral.
One important Jesuit artist was the Bavarian monk Carlos Haymhausen, who arrived in Chile in the mid-18th century. The monk was a great lover of the arts and, along with Ambrosio Santelices and Fermin Morales, he is one of the first professional painters recorded in the former Chilean territory.
The historian Uriqueta viewed Haymhausen as a model for future generations of painters because, in addition his own talent as an artist, he brought with him other foreign artists who would pave the future of Chile's national art.

Quito School

The "Escuela Quiteña" (Quito School) was also influential in the colonial period. Ever since the conquest of the Americas, Quito, Ecuador had attracted a large number of artists from Europe, contributing to the founding of an important school that would influence art across Latin America, including Chile.
The school was founded by Franciscan friars in Quito and was deeply religious. The most important painter from this school is Miguel de Santiago, considered one of the most noteworthy painters of the entire colonial period. Miguel de Santiago raised Latin American painting to a higher level, leaving behind a great number of fine paintings.
However, the greatest Quito pieces tended to be kept by the artistic patrons of Ecuador and Peru and few filtered through to Chile. According to the historian Álvarez Uriqueta, Chile's Spanish rulers did not have the resources to spend on art, preoccupied as they were with Chile's extreme geography and defiant Mapuche people, who continued to fight the conquistadors throughout the colonial period. Because of this, while the influence of Quito school is undeniable in Chile, it is not as strong as in other Latin American countries.

Carolina Landea, 1960
European influences

During the government of Isabella I of Castile and Carlos V in Spain, art was considered a vital tool for the religious conversion and education of the people in Spain's conquered territories in the Americas. The prevailing artistic style at the time was the Mannerism, which represented the Christian ideals of the age.
However, as wealthy Europeans began to commission portraits of themselves and their families, reducing their donations to the church, this decreased the production of religious art in Europe and its Latin American territories during the 18th century. Painting of aristocratic origin stopped being a tool for social change and education and started to become a symbol of wealth.
The Flemish School, with its use of Chiaroscuro, also influenced colonial art in Chile. Among its exponents were the Italian painters Angelino Medoro, Bernardo Bitti and Mateo Perez de Alessio who brought the first engravings and religious prints to Chile.


The colonial period marked a profound change in Chilean art from the previous pre-Columbian period, with a concerted effort to eliminate the vestiges of the pagan culture that existed prior to the conquest. However, pre-Columbian painting survived due to the process of integration that occurred during this period, whereby the symbols and customs found expression in colonial work.
Generally, the colonial period is considered to end with the appearance of José Gil de Castro, an important painter of Peruvian origin, which began the tradition of the traveling painters in Chile.

19th Century - The Traveller-Artists

"The traveller-artists of the 19th century", as they were known, began working at the start of Chile's independence and their influence remains to this day. The paintings and sketches created by these artists were, and continue to be, important in helping to understand, in a didactical way, the early years of republican existence, and are a graphic documentation of the battles that occurred during the country's independence and conflicts with neighbouring countries.

According to the authors Ivelíc and Galaz, this artistic period should not be referred to as a "generation" or a "movement" as the precursors of Chilean painting did not form a group. They are related only in a chronological sense as they arrived in the country in close succession of one another.

The Chilean precursors of Chilean painting were, like their foreign contemporaries working in Chile, influenced by European art. The Chilean painters of this generation, like their predecessors, did not share a particular style but were active during the same period.
However, they were all instrumental in introducing a new era of Chilean art with the creation of the Chilean Academy of Painting. Galaz and Ivaelic wrote that “they share the proximity of their painting with the soil, men and costumes of Chile”.

Claudio Bravo Camus | Mrs Manahan said that Tingting's stand in is the yaya

Chilean Artists at Tutt'Art@

Carolina Landea, 1960 | Moments
Pablo Neruda | Per tanto amore la mia vita.. / De tanto amor mi vida..
Christian Schloe | Pop Surrealism painter
Claudio Bravo Camus' 83rd Birthday | Hyperrealist painter
Pablo Neruda | Ode all'autunno
Sergio Martínez, 1966 | Figurative painter
Pablo Neruda | The Kiss / Il Bacio / El beso
Pablo Neruda / Lisa G. | Here I Love You / Qui ti amo
Pablo Neruda / Irjan Moussin ~ L'amore..
Pablo Neruda | Chiedo silenzio / I ask for silence / Pido silencio
Pablo Neruda / Jeremy Mann | Sonnet XXVII
Pablo Neruda | If your eyes / Se non fosse per i tuoi occhi..
Pablo Neruda / Duy Huynh | Ode to the Happy Day / Ode al giorno felice
La Mano del Desierto / The Hand of the Desert, 1992
Federico Infante, 1982 | Surrealist painter /Illustrator | Part 2
Federico Infante, 1982 | Surrealist painter /Illustrator
Pablo Neruda / Maggie Taylor ~ Poetry / La poesia
Pablo Neruda / Benito Cerna ~ Perche' tu possa ascoltarmi.. /So that you will hear me..
Pablo Neruda ~ In te la terra
Pablo Neruda / Felice Casorati | Body of a woman / Corpo di donna
Pablo Neruda | Love, how many roads.. | Amore, quanta strada..
Mario Irarrázabal, 1940 | Figurative sculptor
Claudio Bravo Camus | Hyperrealist painter
Alejandro Decinti, 1973
Hernán Valdovinos, 1948 ~ Magical Realism painter
Roberto Ferri / Pablo Neruda | Your Laughter / Il tuo sorriso..
Nicoletta Tomas / Pablo Neruda ~ Ormai sei mia..
Luisa Villavicencio
Pablo Neruda | If you forget me / Se tu mi dimentichi, 1952
Pablo Neruda: Never Blame Anyone / Non incolpare nessuno!
Pablo Neruda | Non t’amo come se fossi rosa di sale..
Pablo Neruda | Nuda sei semplice..

La pittura Cilena comprende tutte le opere pittoriche realizzate all'interno del territorio cileno, dall'epoca preispanica, quando fu sviluppata dalle popolazioni indigene, ai tempi moderni, dove appaiono dalle avanguardie all'arte sviluppata da artisti indipendenti.
Le epoche della pittura cilena non sono strettamente definite dagli storici e ci sono alcune variazioni quando si sviluppa una struttura cronologica.

Alcuni autori minimizzano determinati gruppi o scambiano i loro partecipanti. Tuttavia, esiste uno schema cronologico secondo i gruppi e le generazioni che si susseguono attraverso la storia cilena, che è la forma più comune di periodizzazione in termini artistici. Secondo quanto sopra, la pittura cilena iniziò con gli oggetti rituali ed i tessuti dei Diaguita, Atacameño, Rapanui, Mapuche e altri popoli associati, inclusa la civiltà Inca. È anche noto che i popoli dell'estremo sud hanno sviluppato l'arte del petroglifo che dura fino ad oggi.

Successivamente, l'arte Cilena fu presa nelle mani della Compagnia di Gesù all'arrivo degli spagnoli nell'attuale territorio cileno a metà del XVI secolo.
Dopo l'indipendenza, l'arte pittorica cilena fu comandata da un gruppo di artisti stranieri che portarono pittura da cavalletto al paese.
A metà del XIX secolo nacque l'Accademia di pittura e dopo di essa la «generazione del mezzo secolo» e la «generazione dei grandi maestri della pittura cilena», composta da Juan Francisco González, Pedro Lira, Alberto Valenzuela Llanos ed Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma.

All'inizio del XX secolo nacque il primo conglomerato di pittori cileni noto come la «generazione dei Tredici», guidato da Álvarez de Sotomayor, insieme ai suoi successori: l'avanguardia del «gruppo Montparnasse», promosso da Camilo Mori, e la «generazione dei 28», che ha aperto la strada a una nuova arte cilena.
Durante questo periodo, il Museo Nazionale delle Belle Arti del Cile è stato creato nel 1910, su iniziativa dello scultore José Miguel Blanco, tra gli altri personaggi.
A metà del Novecento si realizzano diverse esperienze visive ed emergono autori come Roberto Matta e Claudio Bravo che si cimentano rispettivamente nel surrealismo e nell'iperrealismo.

L'epoca contemporanea è segnata dall'ingresso della pittura autonoma svolta da artisti indipendenti senza stabilire una marcata tendenza verso l'arte astratta o figurativa.

Alejandro Decinti | Rapto de Europa