Colombian Music, Art, Literature


Colombia has a rich cultural tradition starting with the indigenous peoples in pre-Colombian times, through hundreds of years of Spanish occupation, to the modern Colombia of today. These influences are reflected in the art, music, crafts, and literature of Colombia. A wonderful set of links to the cultural resources of Colombia can be found on the website of the Colombian Embassy in Washington, DC.


The music of Colombia covers a range from traditional music forms from the Caribbean coast and the Andean highlands such as cumbia, vallenato, and Cuban-rooted salsa music to contemporary pop and jazz. Artist Carlos Vives transformed vallenato music into a hugely popular music form in Colombia with his album “Clásicos de la Provincia.” In the United States, Colombian artists Shakira and Juanes are well-recognized names in the pop/rock world. A popular rock group in Colombia is Los Aterciopelados, who won a Grammy in 2001 for best Latin rock album.

Art and Crafts

The arts and crafts of Colombia reflect the combined influences of Spanish colonialism, indigenous art forms such as precious metal work, textiles, along with contemporary painting, print making, and photography. A wide range of artistic endeavors are undertaken by Colombian artists today.

  • Guide to Museums in Bogotá (in Spanish).
  • National Museum of Colombia in Bogotá.
  • Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) in Bogotá, with one of the world’s foremost collections of fine gold objects, many dating back several thousand years, with information on the pre-Hispanic societies and cultures.
  • Collection of information about Colombia’s best known artist, Fernando Botero, including online links to museums housing many of his works as well as biographical and other information.
  • Information on famous contemporary Colombian artists Grau, Obregon, Negret, Ramirez, and Villamizar from an exhibition, “Points of Departure in Contemporary Colombian Art,” sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Brief biography of Colombian painter, Enrique Grau.


Colombia’s theater community is small but growing. The urban centers of Colombia, including Bogotá, Cali, and Medellin, are now home to a number of regional and national theater groups, theater schools, and festivals.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez (b. 1928), Colombian author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is perhaps Colombia’s best known author and one of the world’s greatest writers.

José Asunción Silva (1865-96) is considered one of Colombia’s foremost poets.

Contemporary Colombian authors include Héctor Rojas Herazo (1921-2002), Álvaro Mutis (b. 1923), Rafael Humberto Moreno Durán (b. 1946), and Laura Restrepo (b. 1950).

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