North America's Art and Culture Scene

South American Art and Culture


The Inca Empire is famous throughout the world as an ancient people who held thousands of square miles of land. They ruled the Andes mountain range in South America for many centuries. Their art and culture was spread throughout their empire and many of their subjects embraced it as their own. Incan artists were famous for their carving skills in many different materials. Their metal working skills were some of the best any ancient culture produced.

When the Spanish sailed to South America, they were intent on conquering the native populations and gaining the riches of these people. Not all Spanish came to conquer and run. Some of they came to stay and they brought their art and culture with them. Once they had settled down to colonial life, they began to spread their arts and cultural values. What happened over the centuries was a fusion of native works of art and styles with the Spanish culture and artistic values.

Western South America was largely dominated by the Inca Empire. They were the native group that took the brunt of the Spanish invasion. The Spanish conquerors saw in their nation a way to oversee a large continent with a small investment. The Inca people and artisans impressed the Spanish with their art, their culture and their ability to control an empire. The Spanish learned much from the natives, and a great deal of their art was brought back to Spain.

There is still a viable fusion between the two influences of Incan and Spanish art. Brightly colored ceramics were a hallmark of the Spanish culture, even in colonial times. The Incas excelled at metal working and carving. While they did have pottery and basic ceramics, these two forms were enhanced by Spanish influences. Today, artists in the western regions of South America have a rich tradition of art and a culture that combines the best of the Inca and the Spanish.