Saturday, February 27, 2016

Southwestern Calligraphy, Part 3

While recently in Tucson, Arizona, I was struck by how the local calligraphy is a rich combination of cultural influences from Spanish, Mexican, Indian, and cowboy visual art.  The 
Spanish styles were brought by missionaries and conquistadores, and then some of them evolved into colonial styles that filtered in from Mexico.  
Spanish Gothic letters of the late middle ages were rounder than northern European Gothic, and the illumination was more likely to use heavy outlines and more gold.  It also had Moorish influences from the era when Islam dominated the south of Spain.  
While missionaries did not rely as much on the written word as their counterparts in Reformation countries, they did have extensive iconography and decorated their churches in a style that tailored it to local tastes.  And they eventually relied on local pigments.  These richly decorated interiors used vivid colors, strongly outlined figures, and profuse imagery to put across their message. the colors and imagery still influence any visual art of the Southwest.  Including calligraphy. 

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