Cusco, a center of fine arts and crafts for hundreds of years
10 June 2019
For centuries, the city of Cusco and the surrounding region has been a hub for artists, and a prime showcase for the many styles of artwork that emerged here in different eras of history.
An amalgam of artistic styles and architecture make this destination a wonderland for artists and art aficionados, many of whom travel to Cusco from around the world to admire the richness of the city’s artistic legacy.
Colonial History and Traditions
The most renowned works of art in Cusco are probably its colonial-era paintings, sculptures and wood carvings in the style of the 16th, 17th and 18th-century Cusco School .
Priceless Baroque-style paintings of venerated artists such as Diego Quispe Tito, Bernardo Bitti, Marcos Zapata and Basilio Santa Cruz Pumacallao and other masters grace the walls of Cusco’s many stately colonial-era churches.
Many of the Cusco School artists were of indigenous origins, and the themes of their works were a mix of Catholic subjects, as well as images of Inca nobility, and of the flora and fauna of the Andes.
Art and Religion
The most extensive collections of colonial-era art reside in the many churches of Cusco, including the Cathedral of Cusco , the Church of the Compañia and the Church of la Merced, all closely located in the historic downtown district.
A few miles outside of the city, the Church of Andahuaylillas , often called the Sistine Chapel of the Americas, features an impressive painted nave, another important example of exquisite colonial artwork and architecture.
One way dedicated art lovers can enjoy a wide selection of colonial era art is to travel the Andean Baroque Routes, which visit several churches in towns across the region, as far as Puno.
Modern times for the andean artists
But all art in Cusco is not colonial, and modern styles have also thrived in its active artistic ambience. Modern painters and sculptors ingeniously merge indigenous, colonial and modern themes in their works.
Art in Cusco has merged with fine craftwork, as highly-skilled families of artisans produce some of the finest and and most beautiful sculptures, ceramics, weavings, silver jewelry, and much more.
You can visit some of the most renowned artisan family workshops in the fascinating San Blas neighborhood, just a few blocks from the main Plaza de Armas.
A great yearly event where one can admire a plethora of art and Andean handicrafts is the Santurantikuy Fair, which takes place at Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, in December just before Christmas.
Many towns surrounding Cusco and in the Sacred Valley are home to expert traditional artists, weavers and artisans.
Chinchero, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chillca and many other towns are key destinations for those searching for Peru’s finest handicrafts, in particular, weavings of the most outstanding colors and designs.
A rich tradition of Cusqueño photography began with the work of native photographer Martín Chambi, whose matchless black-and-white portraits, group shots and landscapes captured the essence of life in the Andes Mountains in the 1930s and 40s.
Many modern Peruvian photographers have followed in Chambi’s footsteps.
Indeed, travel photography is one of the main activities of most people who visit Cusco. The city and the region are a magnet for amateur and professional photographers from around the world.
Cusco offers an incomparable mix of vivid colors, cultural sights and breath-taking views to keep you busy endlessly snapping great shots.
Dances and musical arts are, of course, ever-present in the rich cultural life of Cusco.
You can experience native dances and music in local nightly presentations at number of local venues, and especially so during major celebrations, including the wonderful Inti Raymi Solstice Festival in late June.
If you are enticed and wish to experience all the arts that Cusco has to offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: andeanlodges.com to let us help you plan your trip to Cusco!