CultureLatin American culture is a mixture of many cultural expressions worldwide. It is the product of many diverse influences:
- Indigenous cultures of the people who inhabited the continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Ancient and very advanced civilizations developed their own political, social and religious systems. The Maya, the Aztecs and the Incas are examples of these.
- Western civilization, in particular the culture of Europe, was brought mainly by the colonial powers—the Spanish, Portuguese and French—between the 16th and 19th centuries. The most enduring European colonial influence is language and Roman Catholicism. More recently, additional cultural influences came from the United States and Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, due to the growing influence of the former on the world stage and immigration from the later. The influence of the United States is particularly strong in northern Latin America, especially Puerto Rico, which is a United States territory. In addition, the United States held the twenty-mile-long Panama Canal Zone in Panama from 1903 (the Panama Canal opened to transoceanic freight traffic in 1914) to 1999, when the Torrijos-Carter Treaties restored Panamanian control of the Canal Zone. South America experienced waves of immigration of Europeans, especially Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Germans. With the end of colonialism, French culture was also able to exert a direct influence in Latin America, especially in the realms of high culture, science and medicine. This can be seen in any expression of the region's artistic traditions, including painting, literature and music, and in the realms of science and politics.
- African cultures, whose presence derives from a long history of New World slavery. Peoples of African descent have influenced the ethno-scapes of Latin America and the Caribbean. This is manifested for instance in dance and religion, especially in countries like Belize, Brazil, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Haiti, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
Beyond the rich tradition of indigenous art, the development of Latin American visual art owed much to the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and French Baroque painting, which in turn often followed the trends of the Italian Masters. In general, this artistic Eurocentrism began to fade in the early twentieth century, as Latin-Americans began to acknowledge the uniqueness of their condition and started to follow their own path.
From the early twentieth century, the art of Latin America was greatly inspired by the Constructivist Movement. The Constructivist Movement was founded in Russia around 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin. The Movement quickly spread from Russia to Europe and then into Latin America. Joaquin Torres Garcia and Manuel Rendón have been credited with bringing the Constructivist Movement into Latin America from Europe.
An important artistic movement generated in Latin America is muralism represented by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco and Rufino Tamayo in Mexico and Santiago Martinez Delgado and Pedro Nel Gómez in Colombia. Some of the most impressive Muralista works can be found in Mexico, Colombia, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Painter Frida Kahlo, one of the most famous Mexican artists, painted about her own life and the Mexican culture in a style combining Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism. Kahlo's work commands the highest selling price of all Latin American paintings.
Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero is also widely known by his works which, on first examination, are noted for their exaggerated proportions and the corpulence of the human and animal figures