CULTURE: ART. THE COLONIAL PERIOD
The first phase of colonial art in Mexico was dominated for over half a century by the characteristics of missionary architecture, built according to the taste and skills of builders belonging to religious orders and linked to the use of local materials and labor. The flowering of the monastic complexes (which preceded in time the construction of the great cathedrals), built by the Franciscans and Dominicans first and then by the Augustinians, reflects characteristics of provincial expression of Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance and Plateresque Spanish art.. The action carried out by the local tradition, destined to assume greater impact in the definition of the Baroque forms, more responsive to the sensitivity of local taste, was immediately relevant. Although substantial differences can be noted in the achievements of the individual orders (especially the forms of the Augustinians are quite distinct from the more contained ones of the two mendicant orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans), the monastic complexes were based on a single informative concept, based realistically on practical purposes (defense) and on the needs of the catechizing mission. The church and the convent were conceived almost as a single organism enclosed within the walls that encircled the patio space all around., a kind of “open chapel” suitable for religious rites and to welcome indigenous people who could not find a place in the church with a single nave. The major monuments of this missionary architecture widespread in Mexico in the century. XVI are the convents of Tlaxcala (the oldest, dating from around 1528), Tepeaca (1530), Cholula (built by the architect Toribio de Alcaráz), Acólman (1539, with frescoes), Actópan (by Fra ‘Andrés de Mata, 1550; with frescoes), Tula (1550). Other architectural developments include the convents of S. Domingo, S. Augustín and S. Luis in Puebla, built by F. Becerra, active in Mexico after 1570 and to which the premises of the more properly Hispanic-Mexican style are attributed, free from the characteristics of missionary architecture. The highest manifestations of Spanish Renaissance art are expressed, from the second half of the century. XVI, in the construction of the great cathedrals of Mérida (J. Miguel de Agüero) and of Puebla (realized with the intervention of F. Becerra) sensitive to the experiences of the art of Juan de Herrera. Interpretations of the Gothic also characterize the cathedrals of this era (a significant example is the cathedral of Cuernavaca, in the Franciscan Gothic style). Other cathedrals that arose in the early colonial period were remodeled and transformed into baroque forms such as the cathedral of Querétaro, whose foundation dates back to 1535, and especially the second cathedral of Mexico City, whose construction, which began in 1552, ended in 1813. Aspects of civil architecture of the century. According to computergees, XVI are documented in Mexico City (Real y Pontificia Universidad, Ospedale del Gesù), in Cuernavaca (palace of Hernán Cortés), in Tlaxcala, in Mérida (Casa de las monjas), etc.
CULTURE: ART. THE BAROQUE AND NEOCLASSICAL ERA
The presence of the local decorative taste appears clearer in the splendid architectural flourishing of the Baroque period, during which the problems of spatial organization were subordinated to the broader focus of decorative aspects, expressed by the exuberant taste for chromatism through the use of materials of different colors, of which the most exciting note is offered by the profusion of polychrome ceramic tiles (azulejos). There are numerous examples of churches and civil buildings of the Baroque architecture of the century. XVII and XVIII, especially in Mexico City (churches of S. Domingo, La Profesa, S. Lorenzo, of Veracruz; Tribunal of the Inquisition), in Puebla (church of S. María de Tonantzintla, chapel of the Rosary in S. Domingo), in Guadalajara (church of S. Monica, Episcopal Seminary). Even in the loaded decorativism of the Churrigueresque style, the late Baroque religious architecture re-established a more organic articulation of the plant (church of the Holy Trinidad, Metropolitan Sagrario in Mexico City; Pocito Chapel in Guadalupe). In private buildings, similar to the model of the first monastic complexes, the scheme of rooms arranged around the patio prevailed (use that has been perpetuated until the twentieth century). The figurative arts, although interested in the intense constructive activity and stimulated by European cultural influences, did not give rise to relevant affirmations, referring mostly to contemporary Spanish experiences. The repudiation for the Baroque forms and the acceptance of the neoclassical taste at the end of the eighteenth century matured without profound consequences, running out in the short span of not even half a century. Protagonists of the academic trend were M. Tolsá and FE Tresguerras: the first completed the cathedral of Mexico City (1813) and executed other works including the Escuela de mineria (Mexico City); the second built the Carmen church in Celaya. In the indigenous popular architecture, isolated from the great centers, peculiar characteristics of the Aztec tradition survived, deeply rooted, which are still preserved in some places of the plateau.