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Opulent treasures; don’t miss it!

allegory of the triumph of the virgin

Check out the incredible opulence here. It’s one of the smaller pieces. Ecuador, attributed to Bernardo de Legarda, 17th-18th c., carved, gilded and polychromed wood, and repousse silver, 31 1/8″ high

We’re going to get around to reviewing the exhibit of Latin American colonial period art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the by-and-by, but we’re so excited about the imagery, we wanted to show you some of our pictures. They are the tip of the iceberg.

Much of the work in Tesoros/Treasures/Tesouros: The Arts in Latin America, 1492 – 1820, is religious and a funny mix of European and native cultures, but there are also lots of non-religious objects such as desks, chairs, chests, tables, pottery, portraits of people, and silver and gold everywhere. We also liked the way that Asian imagery and taste got into the mix.

jesus with avocado.jpg
Christ Child of Huanca, Peru, 1600-1610, polychromed wood with gilding

This Christ child is holding an avocado in one hand, a heart in the other, and his face and clothing are Peruvian. This is just one sample of the cross-cultural interweaving in this show, which includes work from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Spain and anonymous lenders. Also a number of non-Latin countries contributed. A number of the pieces in the show have never been seen outside of their churches. And this is the first pan-Latin America show of colonial art and objects. It’s ground breaking, and mind boggling.

eden.jpgAdam and Eve in Paradise by Cristobal de Villalpando, ca. 1688, oil on copper

We had to show you this one because it reminded us of Julie Heffernan.

The Dormition

You may think this image is turned sideways, but you’d be wrong. The sleeping Virgin Mary is in relief in the middle of a painting.

christ at the column
Christ at the Column, by Diego Quispe Curo, Bolivian, 1667, polychromed cedar, height 54 3/8 inches. Provincia Misionera San Antonio en Bolivia, Museo del Convento de la Recoleta, Sucre, Bolivia

This is one of a series of Christ at the Column sculptures on display, each one bloodier than the next. aaaargh. We’re curious to see how our reaction to this compares with our reaction to the bloody exhibit of work by Viennese Actionist Gunter Brus at Slought Foundation.

St. Jerome.jpg
St. Jerome

This St. Jerome is one of a parade of saints carved of wood and looking positively radiant. Many of them were nearly life-sized and looked regal and impressive on their pedestals.

St. Elesbao, Brazil, second half of the 18th century, polychromed wood. We loved the swirl of this guy’s skirts; the work is operatic and dramatic.


cleaning vitrine.jpg
We saw someone carefully dusting a complex piece and here’s someone cleaning the inside of a vitrine.

The exhibit was still being installed in front of our eyes, with box openers, and drills and a forklift during the press preview because some of the pieces had arrived late the night before. Philadelphia is the first venue for this show. Later venues are in Mexico City February to May 2007 and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art June to September 2007.

treasure 2006

The box in mylar looks like it came from outer space. We only saw the wrapper. But we’re happy to report that the catalog is fabulous (it should be at $50 paper, $75 cloth cover) and has pictures that overwhelmed us, along with many essays that will provide reading for years to come.

This team was uncrating a chest from Cuzco, all wearing gloves, and one of them in a white lab coat. It was a ritual that matched the ritual goings on in many of the paintings.

P.S. Don’t miss the two enormous jaw-dropper altar pieces in the Great Stair Hall, one of them–the Crucifixion–restored thanks to the efforts of the show’s various contributors. (These you can see without paying the $20 per ticket to the rest of the exhibit, but we liked the exhibit so much, we thought it was well worth the fee.)

For images of these and more great stuff, you can visit Libby’s and Roberta’s Flickr sets.