“¿Quién nos llevará al cielo?” El doloroso tránsito del Barroco a la Ilustración en Hispanoamérica


European cultural movements of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries arrived at the New World and had a decisive influence on the way of being American. This article deals with the way in which the Baroque and Enlightenment were applied in Latin America. Taking art and law as examples, it is shown that, during the Baroque, a very original culture was developed, where the creativity of the Indians and the mestizos could be expressed in many different ways. The art and law that were developed in America until the mid-eighteenth century constitute a valuable fusion between European and pre-Columbian elements, and does not merely limit itself to repeat Old World models. On the other hand, with the advent of Enlightenment, the American world was obliged to be subdued to strict rationalist canons, expressed by neoclassical art and, in the nineteenth century, by statutory codification and constitutionalism. These European cultural trends were characterized, in America, for its elitism, in such a way that they led to the exclusion of all prominence to popular classes (Indians as well as mestizos) in artistic creation and severely limited the role of traditional customs in lawmaking.