Influence of the Spanish Conquest

The conquest of the Spanish served as a way to make Mexico more civilized and enlightened. While they had evidence of once having great structures, it was believed that their civilization had since declined and were unable to produce the same level of growth. During the conquest emerged hierarchies of race, location, and ethnography. By acknowledging how culture and race has factored into this perceived idea of Mexican people and their history as being “barbaric”.  In the 18th Century the Spanish conquerors made  art that showed this hierarchy of race called Mexican Casta Paintings that were then sent back to Europe so others were able to see the different skin types and how they were ranked through being mixed. You are able to see different combinations of races through the parents and they are accompanied by a child that is a mix between the parents' races. There is then a description on the bottom of the images that identifies and ranks the images. They also trained Mexicans to create in a more European style of art, most often religious paintings. This importance of Mexican art and its similarity to European art  shows the canonization of European art in art history and the influence this has on how Latin American art is viewed. The idea of the artist’s work, the workshop, and the way they have historically been written about was created during the Renaissance, but the way artists work in Europe doesn’t necessarily translate to the art being made in Mexico at this same time. While through the colonization of Mexico the Spanish taught them to create in the European style and subject matter, the process was still inherently different. They were taught more as a school, rather than focusing on the individual artist. This led to their work being unsigned and being sent back to Europe to be sold. Latin American art should not  be held to the same classifications as European art because it has a different process and intent. These nations have different ways of how they were taught, and how their cultures have historically been seen and should not be compared to one another in what makes a great artist. By acknowledging how culture and race has factored into the perceived idea of Mexican people and their “barbaric” history as these concepts can also be applied to the museum and the link between European centric art as superior in comparison to ancient artifacts. Through the influence of Spanish art to Mexico, they will begin to break away from this as they forge their own identity. They went about this in exploring their national origin and combining new skills while incorporating inspiration from past influences.