South America: Art in Dialogue with Nature
Not only able to survive and prosper in challenging environments, the peoples of South America also devoted great energy to the aesthetic dimension of life. They built intricate monuments and vast cities; they wove superb textiles and crafted delicate goldwork. While
South American art dating from as far back as the 10th millennium BCE has been preserved, the highly sophisticated civilizations began to emerge around 3000 BCE, culminating in the Inca Empire that came to an end in the 16th century. The selection of works exhibited here is arranged geo-culturally: the chiefdoms of the Northern Andean region (Ecuador and Colombia); the major civilizations of the Central Andean region (Peru and Bolivia); tribal art of the Amazon Basin; and Southern South America.
Like other Precolumbian societies, the culture of South America was inseparably linked to the forces of nature, agriculture, and the cycle of the year. Art was a collective effort, the result of a process in which specialized skills were applied to well-honed formulas. Because these
cultures had no systems of writing, objects became a major source of information. Stylized Chavin figures, Moche and Nasca ceramics, Chancay and Wari textiles, Chimu metalwork, and the featherwork of the Amazon Basin – all of these communicated meaning and reflected the history, faith, social structure, and environment of the peoples that created them.