Mexican Art and Architecture

Overview Art and Architecture
  • Pre-Hispanic Mexican Art
  • Colonial Mexican Art and Architecture
  • Mexican Independence Era
  • 20th Century Mexican Art
  • Mexican Artists

Colonial Mexican Art

The Spanish brought with them, their own art and influences from 16th century Europe. Even so, soon it became more common for the Iberian immigrants to produce their art in Mexico rather than bring it from Spain. This work began fusing with the art produced by indigenous artisans, and already interesting unique pieces began to emerge. With regard to architecture, large projects had to be approved by the central government in Spain before being cleared for construction in the Americas, and therefore, most buildings had distinct Iberian features. This occurred mostly in the larger city centers, while inland, in the smaller towns, greater indigenous influence flourished. This mixture of the European with the natives is referred to as “mestizo” and is an adjective which describes both art work derived from both roots, as well as descendants of mixed backgrounds.

In early colonial times many indigenous cities, ceremonial centers and temples were demolished and their riches were pilfered for use in the conquistadors’ structures or for shipping to Europe. Many religious artifacts were destroyed by zealous Christians. During this time the predominant tendency was to destroy the old and create the new. Later, more and more Iberian architects and artisans came over to the New World and began instructing and training their indigenous apprentices in a marked European style and technique. During this time “mestizo” art was relegated to crafts rather than architecture and construction.

In the 18th century, the creoles or criollos, Iberian descendants born in Mexico, began dominating the artistic scene as they now formed the greatest part of the white population. Their art began to be more assertive and started competing with Iberian art.