Bolivia is home to lots of intricate and detailed rock art. The art work dates back thousands of years. Indeed, it is believed to go back several millennia. It is associated with pre-historic civilizations. The, mostly, symbolic images can be found in caves, on boulders, on rocky outcrops, on ledges, and in enclaves. This type of rock art is also known as petroglyphs.
A petroglyth is an image that has been created by removing sections of a rock surface. This can be achieved by carving, picking, cutting, and abrading. Some of the scenes depict hunting activities. Others show tiny human-like figures. Whilst there are a few sites in the northern lowlands where engravings have been found, most of the rock art appears to be concentrated in the eastern lowlands and the Andean region.
Fast forward through time, and Bolivians continued to create decorative and artistic works. One particular type of art and architecture found in Bolivia, unique to the country, is Mestizo Baroque. This is also sometimes referred to as Andean Baroque. It is a fusion of indigenous art and that of the Spanish colonizers. Elements from each culture were taken and mixed together to form a very individual and interesting style that has since endured the ages.
The traditional art created today in Bolivia, known as folk art, has strong indigenous influences. As well as being a creative activity, it is also a means by which Bolivian people can preserve and record their culture. Art techniques are passed down the generations, thus preserving skills, crafts, and cultural ideas. Some people produce art work to sell. Others produce art work for enjoyment.
Bolivian art can be seen through a variety of different mediums. It is visible in the colourful, patterned and decorative clothes and styles. It can be seen in architecture. Carvings and ornaments show art. Wood and stone is used for carvings in Bolivia. The obvious mediums of paintings and sculptures are also very common in Bolivia. Pottery is another common way that art is depicted. Some famous Bolivian artists from the 20th century include Guzman de Rojas, Arturo Borda, Maria Luisa Pacheco, and Marina Nunez del Prado.
With more galleries and art museums starting to open up across the country, more people around the globe are becoming aware of the beauty of Bolivian art. As well as small studios, workshops, and galleries operated by individual artists, there are now larger institutions dedicated to showing the best of Bolivian art work.
Top Art Museums in Bolivia
The National Museum of Arts in La Paz is one of the country’s leading arts museums and one of the most important cultural institutions. The building itself is an architectural delight, with arches, pictures carved into the walls, a pleasant square, and a high gallery. Over the years the building, from the 1700s, has had various uses. Today, it is home to a wonderful selection of Bolivian art. Exhibits include colonial art, modern art, and religious art.
Salar Galeria de Arte is also located in La Paz. It was originally a place to promote local arts and their works, but then it closed and became the studio of Gaston Ugalde. Today, it showcases some excellent contemporary and modern pieces. The gallery participates in a number of art events across the world.
Casa Museo Nunez del Prado in La Paz displays some of the finest pieces by Marina Nunez del Prado, a celebrated Bolivian sculptor. The house contains over 1,000 exhibits, comprised of sculptures, drawings, sketches, and also painting and gold pieces by Marina’s sister – Nilda. There is also a wide variety of pieces of art that were collected by the family.
The Museo de Arte Antonio Paredes Candia is in El Alto. It contains over 500 works of art, as well as over 10,000 books. It is a great place to see some fine pieces by some of Bolivia’s best artists.
In Santa Cruz you can visit the small but well appointed Museum of Modern Art. There are no permanent displays or exhibits, however; it many shows works by winners of art competitions. Nevertheless, it is still a great place to see local modern art in Bolivia.
These are just a few example of where to see art in Bolivia. There are other bolivian art galleries and museums around the country. You can also see forms of art in other museums, for example the Textiles Museum, the Museum of Folk Costumes, archaeological museums, and similar.
In some parts of the country you can admire terrific and impressive big, bold, and colourful street art. Cochabamba has a large collection of wonderful street art. You can get local maps showing the locations of the murals.