In the years that followed the conquest, the Spanish colonists came to entirely
shape the national culture of Venezuela. The influence of the native, pre-Hispanic
communities was marginal, as they were soon assimilated by the strong cultural
and political unity of the Spaniards.
After the Spanish conquest, Venezuelan music evolved as a blend of Spanish,
African and Indigenous rhythms. Today, an African influence is particularly
apparent in the music of the northeast coast, formerly the 'slave coast'. The
Gaita is the traditional music of Zulia State and consists of improvised
rhyming vocals over four-string guitars and maracas. The Gaita is featured
in festivals throughout the year and has now become Venezuela’s traditional
Christmas music. The national Venezuelan dance is the Joropo, which is
associated with the Llanos
region and, like the Gaita is a rhythm accompanied by improvised
vocals, four-string guitars, maracas and harps. However, the merengue
of the Dominican Republic and the Puerto Rican salsa are the most popular
dances in Venezuela.
Venezuelan literature only began to develop during the colonial period, and
writings of the era were dominated by Spanish culture and thinking. Chronicles
and various styles of poetry were the chief literary manifestations of the 1700s.
The 1800s and independence saw the rise of political literature, including the
autobiography of Franciso de Miranda. Romanticism, the first important literary
genre in Venezuela, unfolded in the mid 1800s and is best illustrated by Peonia,
by Manuel Romero García. After independence, Venezuelan literature began to diversify,
but only began to rapidly evolve under the regimes of Guzmán Blanco, from 1870
to 1888. The early 1900s saw the rise of several significant writers, novelists
and poets, among them Andrés Eloy Blanco, Rómulo Gallegos, Arturo Uslar Pietri
and Miguel Otero Silva. Literary tradition became established in Venezuela in
the mid 1900s.
Colonial architecture in Venezuela did not really compare to the grand buildings
of Columbia, Peru and Ecuador. Churches and houses were simple, and most buildings
were constructed in a Spanish style. However, Venezuela stands out for its Modernism.
Modern architecture came in two phases, the first under the regime of Guzmán
Blanco in the 1870s, and second and most significant in the mid 1900s, when much
of the new-found oil wealth was invested in the renovation of Caracas. Today,
Caracas is one of the most modern cities in the world.
Pre-Columbian art in Venezuela consisted mainly of rock carvings and cave paintings
in the form of petroglyphs. The colonial era was characterised by religious painting
and sculpture in Spanish style, of which notable examples include the sculpture
St Peter the Apostle by Enrique Antonio Hernández Prieto, and Antonio
José Landaeta’s painting The Immaculate Conception. In the years following
independence, history took over from religion as the dominant theme of art, a
genre best illustrated by the exceptional work of Martín Tovar y Tovar. 20th
century art has been marked by modernism, and many changes of style occurred
in the 1930s and 1940s. Kinetic art has emerged in the last few decades, and
has been most successfully represented by the work of Carlos Cruz Díez and Jesús
There are many museums
in Caracas, including the Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Colonial Art, the
Natural Sciences Museum and the Simon Bolívar Museum.
Venezuela’s theatre tradition began in the late 1700s and has been progressively
growing ever since. The national theatre became established some thirty years
ago, and is now based in Caracas. Venezuela is not noted for its cinema; few
films are made and foreign films are favoured.
Venezuela has a strong folk and popular culture. Many regions have well-known
symbolic icons which personify their cultural roots. Most significant are the
andinos, the hardy mountain folk; the guayanés, the tough frontiersman
following a dream; the Llanero, the cowboy of the Llanos and the maracucho,
the energetic entrepreneur of the Maracaibo area.
- Arte y Cultura (Spanish)