Latin Art & Architecture

Art and architecture have always evolved together in Latin America. From the sculptural reliefs on its Mayan pyramids, to the baroque interiors of Quito's colonial churches, the massive Diego Rivera murals that adorn the walls of Mexico City's buildings, and the modernist buildings in Brazil that blur the line between architecture and sculpture.

After decades of staying on the sidelines of the contemporary art world, Latin American artists are finally at the front and centre stage of many of the world’s top museums and art collectors, and have firmly gained the attention of the global art audience.

Architecturally, the region's ancient structures from its Mayan pyramids, the archaeological wonder of Machu Picchu, its well preserved colonial cities and Brazil's modernist masterpieces have set the foundation for a new breed of talented architects who continue to bridge the gap between art and architecture with their avant-garde structures.

It is no secret that the Latin art scene has exploded. Global auction houses, galleries and museums have finally bestowed these artists the recognition they deserve. However, Latin America has always had a proud tradition of artistic expression. From the indigenous artisans of the Andean highlands to the established artists of the region’s capitals, art runs through Latin America’s veins. When it comes to contemporary works, Mexico and Brazil lead the pack, hosting international art fairs. Mexico City has cemented its position as an art capital and hosts an annual fair each February called the Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo
MexicoWhen we think of 20th-century Latin American artists, Mexico seems to dominate with the iconic Frida Kahlo being top-of-mind for most people. Kahlo was part of a much larger and more diverse band of notable artists, such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Siqueiros who were referred to as “los tres grandes” and were considered the world’s best muralists of their day. For contemporary art, Gabriel Orozco is leading the charge with a multitude of amazing talent that is redefining Mexican art into the 21st century.

BrazilAfter Mexico, Brazil has had the largest impact on the 20th century art scene in Latin America with artists such as Vik Muniz, Lygia Clari, Antonio Dias, Tarsila do Amaral and Tunga, creating works in different mediums and cementing Brazil as a major art and culture destination. Many of these artists are still producing work today alongside a new generation of young emerging artists such as Rodrigo Torres, Alice Quaresma and Rodrigo Mogiz, all of whom are also starting to gain international attention.

ColombiaAnother famous Latin American artist to capture international fame is Fernando Botero, the Colombian master whose paintings and sculptures of human figures in exaggerated volume can appear both political and comical at the same time. Apart from the Botero Museum in Bogota, his works and sculptures can be found all over Latin America and Europe, as well as in art capitals such as New York City and Singapore.

ArgentinaThe country has produced many notable artists such as Benito Quinquela Martin, whose work defines the La Boca area of Buenos Aires, and Antonio Berni, whose painting “Manifestation” (Demonstration) is one of the most iconic Latin American paintings and is a must-see on any visit to the MALBA museum in Buenos Aires. Recently, Argentina seems to have become the centre of the Latin American contemporary art scene with a lot of Argentinian and continental artists flocking to the capital which is home to an impressive range of museums, galleries and art spaces as well as an increasingly vibrant street art culture.

Finally, for such a small island, Cuba has made an impressive mark on the art scene with artists such as Ana Mendieta and Wilfredo Lam, both female artists who introduced Cuban art to the world. Chile also has a proud tradition of female artists such as political graphic artist Luz Donoso and renowned sculptor Lily Garafulic.

Art galleries and museumsFor art-lovers, there is an eclectic and impressive selection of museum, galleries and art spaces around Latin America. Here is a selection of some of our favourite institutions to explore:

  • Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina: home to one of the world’s most extensive permanent collections of Latin American Art featuring groundbreaking artists such as Diego Rivera, Joaquín Torres García and Argentine figurative artist Antonio Berni.
  • Intohim Institute, Belo Horizonte, Brazil: nestled in lush gardens, this is one of the finest cultural institutions on the continent, with world-class artworks and visually arresting experimental art installations situated in one of the world’s largest open-air art museums displaying works of artists such as the Brazilian artist Tunga, Yayoi Kusama and Olafur Eliasson.
  • Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL), Mexico City, Mexico: houses an impressive display of Mexican art from the 16th to the mid-20th century. The museum is a beautiful Neoclassical building housing pieces by influential muralist Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose Clemente Orozco.
  • Museo Botero, Bogota, Colombia: celebrates Colombia’s most famous living artist with an impressive collection of his unique paintings of oversized characters and curvaceous sculptures.
  • Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), Peru: housed in the impressive 19th-century building of Palacio de la Exposición. This historical landmark stands proudly, boasting an exhaustive collection of pre-Columbian art. MALI showcases the evolution of Peruvian art from its dynamic cultural past and how it continues to influence contemporary art in Lima today.
  • Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City, Mexico: La Casa Azul (The Blue House), Kahlo’s childhood home and residence for most of her life. Although this does not house her best and most famous pieces, the museum is interesting as it also contains paintings by her iconic husband, Diego Rivera as well as her personal objects and letters.

Elsewhere on the continent, Uruguay’s unique Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo is an exciting artistic celebration housed in a formerly abandoned jail in Montevideo. And Brazil's Casa Triangulo in Sao Paulo is an incubator for local artists and one of the first Brazilian galleries to invest in international art fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze Art Fair in London and ARCO in Madrid.

Curated art toursWhether you are a serious art collector, someone wanting to purchase that one special piece to remember your trip, or are just interested in learning more about Latin America’s dynamic art scene, we arrange bespoke tours led by specialists guides and art curators. We also arrange special access to local artists’ studios, after-hour private tours of leading galleries and museums, and access to local art dealers and curators who can set up private meetings with specific local artists. Many of Latin America’s top collections are private with restricted access to the public, but through our local connections, we can arrange private viewings of these collections.

Latin America has been an important place for architecture for many decades. Masters like Barragán, Dieste, Lina Bo Bardi, and Niemeyer influenced architectural design all over the world, and they continue to do so today. Their approach to colours, materials and walls left a deep and lasting influence on architectural modernism. More recently, architecture on the continent has continued to evolve, and a lively and extremely creative architecture scene has developed.
The new republics looked towards France and Italy for inspiration to transform their colonial cities into modern, cosmopolitan ones. The Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City is said to be the first example of a Parisian boulevard in the New World. The current landscape of Buenos Aires is heavily marked by this golden age in architecture, with a very Parisian Belle Époque style.
The modern age of Latin architecture is perhaps best known for Brazil’s modernist architects. Its distinct modernist buildings can be found all over the country with the most famous example being its ambitiously planned federal capital, Brasilia which was built during the late fifties by the young architect Oscar Niemeyer. The futuristic design is a testimony to the national slogan ‘order and progress’. If you don’t have the chance to travel to Brasilia, both Sao Paulo and Rio have many Niemeyer masterpieces, such as the iconic Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, which is a striking bowl-shaped structure sitting on a cliff just outside of Rio de Janeiro. 
Mexico’s Luis Barragan is another architect who helped shape Latin American modernism and whose emphasis on colour, light, shadow, form and texture is studied by architecture students all over the world to this day. His masterpiece, Casa Barragan, in Mexico City is not to be missed.
Latin America's designer lodges and hotelsLatin America’s capitals and urban centres are littered with fine examples of contemporary architecture that both inspire and at times amuse with their unorthodox designs. Much of the best contemporary architecture seems to be reserved for hotels and lodges to service the burgeoning luxury tourism space. Here are some of our favourite architectural masterpieces that you can call home for a few days:

Awasi Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Chile: a spectacular lodge consisting of twelve luxury villas inspired by old Patagonian shelters and ranching outposts, affording spectacular views of the stunning Torres del Paine massif.

Hotel Emiliano, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: with a facade of intricate, organic panels to welcome as much sunlight as possible, this iconic hotel along Rio’s Copacabana Beach evokes the area’s glamorous past with a nod to Niemeyer’s modernism in a very contemporary manner.

Titilaka Lodge, Lake Titicaca, Peru: located on a private peninsula on Lake Titicaca, the lodge harmonises perfectly with its surroundings in an inspired, elegant design that maximises exposure to its magnificent lake views.

Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina: The lodge's stunning private adobe style villas are surreally dotted throughout a 55-acre vineyard, at the foot of the breathtaking snowcapped Andes mountain range.

Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands: This gorgeous lodge boasts one of the most spectacular locations on Earth. Boasting ocean views on three sides, its rooms are designed like the bridges of ships, with steel beams supporting sloping roofs which act as rain-catchers, giving the lodge the appearance of a watchtower.

Curated private architecture toursFor architects or those with a keen interest in the field, we can arrange city tours with architects or urban historians who can walk and talk you through the city’s architectural highlights with expert knowledge. Mexico City is a must-see, the vibrant metropolis is full of different eras crammed together: futurist Art Deco, classically ornate Colonial and minimalist Mexican modern designs. Perhaps the most famous example of Latin American architecture in recent years is the ambitiously planned, modern Metropolis of Brasilia. From above, the city resembles an aeroplane.


We have a team of specialist local guides and experts and we can sometimes arrange after-hours access to public buildings allowing you a private, intimate experience. We can also arrange special access to private mansions and residences via our local contacts in each destination. We look forward to helping you achieve your architectural dreams.

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