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Exhibit Connects Aztec, Inca and Spanish Colonial Art

LACMA's "Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World" an extraordinary, awe-inspiring exhibit, through Jan 29

By Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr.
Published on LatinoLA: November 14, 2011


Exhibit Connects Aztec, Inca and Spanish Colonial Art


Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a media preview for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)'s recently opened exhibit called "Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World." It's on view in the museum's Resnick Pavilion through January 29, 2012.

Organized in partnership with Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH), Mexico, it's the first exhibition in the U.S. to examine the significance of indigenous peoples and cultures within the complex social and artistic landscape of colonial Latin America, offering a comparative view of Mexico and Peru from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

What's on view? The exhibit is an awe-inspiring selection of approximately 200 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, codices, manuscripts, queros (ceremonial drinking vessels), featherworks, and other extraordinary objects.

The media preview was well-attended, not just by editors and reporters like Antonio Mejias-Rentas of La Opini??n and Reed Johnson of the L.A. Times, but also well-known local artists and gallery owners, including Raoul De La Sota, Linda Arreola, Kathy Gallegos and Jose Gonzalez.

After brief comments by the museum's director Michael Govan, who chatted informally with attendees at the outdoor reception which preceded the preview, and Ilona Katzew, the exhibition's curator and the department head of Latin American art for LACMA, who stated that she'd been working on the exhibit for more than 10 years, the crowd surged into the darkened halls.

Almost immediately, I was stopped in my tracks by an amazing sight: "Figure of Eagle Warrior" (pictured). The formidable figure, nearly six foot tall and made of fired clay, stucco and paint, is on loan from the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City.

It was part of museum's first section, "Tenochtitlan and Cuzco: Pre-Columbian Antecedents," which brings together monumental sculpture of the Aztecs and textiles, feather and metalwork of the Inca, laying a foundation for understanding the role their artistic and religious traditions played on in Spanish colonial times.

I didn't have time to fully explore, appreciate and contemplate the remaining sections, which number six altogether: "Ancient Styles in the New Era," "Conquest and New World Orders," "The Devotional Landscape and the Indian as Good Christian," "Indian Festivals and Sacred Rituals," and "Memory, Genealogy, and Land."

Luckily, not only will the exhibit be on view until early next year, allowing me to bring my family along for a more extended visit, there will also be a three-day symposium taking place that will bring together thirty of the most distinguished scholars in the field. More info here.

There's also a special film program taking place January 21 & 22, at the museum's Bing Theater at 1 pm both days. This two-day film program, curated by Marlene Dermer, co-director of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF), explores themes from the exhibition through cinema. The program includes feature films and documentaries, followed by roundtable discussions and conversations with the directors. Free, no reservations required.

Finally, there's a companion book you can take home, edited by Ilona Katzew, which includes contributions by a distinguished group of scholars, including Cecelia F. Klein, Thomas B. F. Cummins, Diana Magaloni Kerpel, Kevin Terraciano, and Luis Eduardo Wuffarden among others. The book is produced by LACMA and distributed by the prestigious publisher Yale University Press.

But don't wait until the holidays to check out this wonderful exhibit. Take a day off during the week to take in the full impact of this wide-ranging exhibit which shows the complex relationship between natives of Mexico and Peru with the conquerers, and how this exchange give rise to vital and outstanding works of art.

After the exhibition closes at LACMA in late January, it will travel to the Museo Nacional de Historia (Castillo de Chapultepec), Mexico City, from July 6, 2012 through October 7, 2012.

Location and Contact: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue), Los Angeles, CA, 90036 | 323 857-6000 | lacma.org

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: noon-8 pm; Friday: noon-9 pm; Saturday, Sunday: 11 am-8 pm; closed Wednesday

General Admission: Adults: $15; students 18+ with ID and senior citizens 62+: $10
Free General Admission: Members; children 17 and under; after 5 pm weekdays for L.A.
County residents; second Tuesday of every month;
Target Free Holiday Mondays

About Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr.:
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