Running from June 22 to Sept. 1, Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500-1800, features more than 100 works drawn from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s notable collection of Spanish colonial art, which has largely been formed in the last 15 years. The paintings, sculptures and decorative arts on view underscore the generative power of Spanish America and its central position as a global crossroads.
Imperial expansion, conquest, colonization and the trans-Atlantic slave trade 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 Americas in the late 15th century, artists working there 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.
While acknowledging the profound violence that marked the process of conquest and colonization, this exhibition explores the intricate social, economic and artistic dynamics of these societies that led to the creation of astounding new artworks that were widely sought after and shipped around the world.
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