Costa Rica Art and Artists
If you want to visit Costa Rica and experience the cultural side of ticos, getting to view art examples in Costa Rica is the perfect way! We have several museums in san jose dedicated to Costa Rica art, both modern and historical. Costa Rica’s artists come from a diversity of backgrounds and are influenced by many different sources. Historically, Costa Rica art was comprised of jade sculptures and figurines that were found in many burial sites around the country as well as pottery produced in the northern region of Guanacaste, still produced up to this day. However, after the conquest, due to the decimation of the native cultures and the arrival of the Spanish settlers there wasn’t much growth in the artistic fields: Costa Rica was pretty much left to its own devices. Art, as usual, was seen as a good hobby for the wealthy, and part of the education of any cultured young woman. Art happened when international artists stopped in Costa Rica during their travels, or when they came to spend a season. Their paintings or sculptures represented status symbols to be displayed in living rooms, but years had to pass by before Costa Rica started looking for its own artistic language, and for the community to see Costa Rica artists as worthy as those who came from outside.
Costa Rica’s art history has its forefathers and mentors such as:
- Francisco “Paco” Amighetti , painter, engraver, muralist and illustrator
- Tomás Povedano, Spanish artist born in Córdoba, came to Costa Rica to organize the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, the national fine arts school in 1897, school that is still going strong at the University of Costa Rica.
- Crisanto Badilla : sculptor who found a voice among the Heredian artists, rediscovering granite and wood while creating a classic Costa Rican style.
- Fadrique González was a man of many passions: passionate about sculpture and painting while strongly attracted to physics and chemistry. Most of his art was lost in earthquakes in Costa Rica, but many of his religious sculptures still exist. In life, he was better recognized as a healer or “santero”. His sculptures in stone seem to have set the pace for the Costa Rican artists that followed him.
- Teodorico Quirós : His vast production of national scenery and various architectural works for public and private projects have won him a place in Costa Rica’s art history.
- Some other important names in the art history of Costa Rica are: Hugo Sánchez, Juan Manuel Sánchez and Juan Rafael Chacón .
All of these men provided the groundwork for Costa Rica’s actual artists’ work by establishing workspaces, a sense of community, and by validating the work an artist performs and its value to society. Through their work as artists and as art promoters, institutions such as the Fine Arts Faculty in the University of Costa Rica, the Ministry of Culture and Arts in San José and International Art festivals came into being.
Currently the Costa Rican art scene is dominated by women who have immersed themselves into the arts with a heartfelt fervour. These Costa Rican women artists have balanced out the previous score set by the masters and have created a new style of artwork.
The multiple national and international prizes these women have harvested have brought attention to Costa Rica artists in general. The mixed media work of Adela Marín, Leda Astorga’s sculptures and models; Victoria Cabeza’s photography and installations; Ileana Moya’s engravings and Virginia Perez-Rattón’s conceptual art are just a sample of female artists with diverse concepts, currents and styles. Other important names to mention in contemporary art are Dinorah Carballo, Rocío Con Hong, Marisel Jiménez, Karla Solano, Sussy Vargas, Jorge Albán, Mario Maffioli, Otto Apuy, Cecilia Paredes, Sila Chanto, Esteban Piedra, José Alberto Hernández, Loida Pretiz, Alvaro Gómez, Alejandro Ramírez, Fabio Herrera and Jaime David Tischler.
Contemporary male artists who have made a splash worldwide are Jiménez Deredia, who has sculptures in the Vatican and currently on tour throughout Europe, Hernán Arévalo who has many woodcut prints in exposition in Paris, France, or Francisco Mungía, an up and coming artist and cartoonist who has painted murals throughout Costa Rica, particularly in low income areas as a way to bring art to everyone, give young people a chance to explore art as an alternative means of expression and to show that art examples in Costa Rica are not only found inside museums.
However, museums are a great place to start if you wish to view Costa Rican art examples. Our city tour visits important museums such as the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo and the Museo de Arte Costarricense in La Sabana. Itinerant expositions go to the Casas de la Cultura in most large towns and you can also take advantage of the Art Festivals that take place in Costa Rica, such as the Christmas Fair in the Roosevelt Park for a weekend in December or the Art fair in the Fine Arts faculty in the University of Costa Rica. Another option to view artwork from lesser known artists, is to take a Costa Rica art tour. We can arrange these art tours through San José and Escazú where you can view the artwork at the artists workshops or galleries and meet the Costa Rican artists themselves; a unique opportunity to purchase original Costa Rican art and to get to know the new ways this Central American country has found to express itself.