Hispanic Culture: Art & Clothing

Instructor: Raychelle Heath

Raychelle has a BA in Spanish and an MFA in Writing. She has studied in Puerto Rico and currently lives in Mexico. She has taught Spanish in various settings.

We often think of Hispanic art and clothing as having a lot of color and movement. This lesson explores some of the well-known painters of the Hispanic world. It also surveys some of the traditional dress found in Hispanic countries.

Let's Explore Hispanic Art and Clothing

The face of Frida Kahlo has become almost ubiquitous. Who hasn't seen the brightly colored embroidered dresses so common to Hispanic fashion? In this lesson, you will learn about a few Hispanic artists that have made their mark on the art world and some of the traditional garments common to Hispanic clothing.

Artistas Famosas

The Hispanic world has offered us some amazing artists over the years who have created a variety of kinds of art. Before we explore more about the artists, here are some helpful art terms to know:

  • artista (ar-TEES-tah): artist
  • cuadro (KWAH-droh): painting
  • escultura (ehs-kuhl-TO-rah): sculpture
  • mural (mu-RAHL): mural
  • surrealismo (su-ray-ah-LEES-moh): surrealism
  • realismo (ray-ah-LEES-moh): realism

Now let's learn about a few of the artistas:

Pablo Picasso

Picasso is one of the most famous artistas in the world. Hailing from Málaga, Spain, Picasso was one of the creators of the Cubism movement. He was a pintor (painter) and escultor (sculptor). Picasso began creating art at a very early age. As he developed as an artist he wasn't interested in classical subjects and techniques but found inspiration from anarchists and radicals. Picasso's art had many different periods, one of the most famous being the Blue Period.

Wifredo Lam

Wifredo Lam was an artista of mixed heritage hailing from Cuba. He painted many cuadros that drew on his unique ancestral heritage which includes Chinese, African, and mulatto roots. He desired his cuadros to showcase Afro-Cuban culture. His style eventually leaned towards modernismo (modernism). Picasso was a friend and supporter of his work.

Translation: Wifredo Lam was a Cuban painter.
painter lam

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are two of the most recognizable Mexican artistas. The two were married for a time, and it could be said that they influenced each other's works to a certain extent. Kahlo painted numerous cuadros of herself in various settings. She explored much of her pain through her cuadros, and Rivera appears in some of her works. Rivera was known for his murales featuring scenes of Mexican society, especially the lives of working class people. One of his most famous murales can be found at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.

Fernando Botero

Botero is a pintor and escultor from Colombia. Before he became an artista, he was studying to be a matador. His early works were partially inspired by the murales of Diego Rivera. In the 1950's, he began to cultivate his signature style. He is known for his depiction of very large exaggerated bodies. He began with cuadros and then moved on to esculturas, though he is known for both and still creates both.

Translation: Fernando Botero is a painter and sculptor from Colombia.
sculpture botero

Salvador Dalí

Dalí is one of the most well-known artistas de surrealismo in the world. Born in Figueres, Spain, Dalí showed great artistic talent at an early age. Though he attended art school, he was a rebellious student. He was suspended from school and even arrested at one point. He studied many different artistic movements but eventually settled on surrealismo. One of his most famous works is the Persistence of Memory, a landscape cuadro showing melting pocket watches.

Roberto Matta

Matta was born in Santiago, Chile. He is another important pintor of the surrealismo movement. His work is known for being abstract but also blending in realismo. His aesthetic, while considered unusual, is a prime example of surrealismo.

Translation: Roberto Matta is one of the most well-known Chilean painters.
painting matta

Ropa Tradicional

The Hispanic world spans several countries and cultures. Traditional Hispanic dress can depend on a variety of factors, including indigenous culture, access to materials, and weather. Before we take a look at some traditional dress found in Hispanic countries, let's learn some helpful vocabulary.

  • ropa (RO-pah): clothing
  • bordado (bor-DAH-doh): embroidery
  • algodón (ahl-goh-DONE): cotton
  • vestido (beh-STEE-doh) : dress
  • pantalón (pahn-tah-LOHN): pant
  • sombrero (sohm-BREH-roh): hat

Now let's look at some ropa:

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