ART AND IMAGINATION IN SPANISH AMERICA, 1500–1800: HIGHLIGHTS FROM LACMA’S COLLECTION
Frist Art Museum / 919 Broadway October 20, 2023 - January 28, 2024
Imperial expansion, conquest, and colonization marked the period spanning from 1500 to 1800. Cataclysmic social and geopolitical shifts brought people into closer contact than ever before—in real and imagined ways, propelling the creative refashioning of the material culture that surrounded them. After the Spaniards began colonizing the so-called New World in the late fifteenth century and set out to spread Christianity, artists in the Americas drew from a range of traditions—Indigenous, European, Asian, and African—reflecting the interconnectedness of the world. Private homes and civic and ecclesiastic institutions soon teemed with imported and local objects.
Spanish America was neither a homogeneous nor a monolithic entity, and local artists, including those who remain unidentified, were not passive absorbers of foreign traditions. Without eschewing the profound violence that marked the process of conquest and colonization, this exhibition emphasizes the intricate social, economic, and artistic dynamics of these budding societies that led to the creation of astounding new artworks—many shipped to other markets in their own day. This exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts underscores the generative power of Spanish America and its central position as a global crossroads. The works are drawn from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s notable collection of Spanish colonial art, which has largely been formed in the last fifteenth years.