Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World

Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World
On View:
November 6, 2011–January 29, 2012
Resnick Pavilion

(Los Angeles, September 14, 2011)—The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), in partnership with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), Mexico, presents Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World, the first exhibition in the United States to examine the significance of indigenous peoples and cultures within the complex social and artistic landscape of colonial Latin America.

On view from November 6, 2011 through January 29, 2012, the exhibition offers a comparative view of Mexico and Peru, the two principal viceroyalties of Spanish America, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth
centuries, and includes a selection of approximately 200 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, codices, manuscripts, queros (ceremonial drinking vessels), featherworks, and other extraordinary objects.

“This exhibition, which brings together a remarkable group of artworks from Mexico and Peru (two areas which were much larger than the countries known by those names today), provides a unique opportunity to examine the connection between ancient and colonial artistic traditions,” said Ilona Katzew, exhibition curator and department head of Latin American art. “By taking into consideration the pre-Columbian (Inca and Aztec) origins of these two regions and their continuities and ruptures over time, Contested Visions greatly enriches our understanding of how art and power intersected in the Spanish colonial world.”

Exhibition Background
Following his conquest of the Mexica (commonly known as the Aztecs) in 1521, Hernán Cortés took possession of the heart of what would become the Viceroyalty of New Spain in the name of the Spanish king. Spain soon established a network of civil and religious authority that would effectively govern the immense territory, which encompassed present-day Mexico plus much of Central America and the Spanish borderlands that are now part of the United States. The viceroyalty’s capital, Mexico City, was
built atop the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire.

The Viceroyalty of Peru was established in 1548 after Francisco Pizarro and his cohort, Diego de Almagro, invaded the Inca Empire in 1532 and violently defeated its last Inca ruler, Atahualpa. Unlike New Spain, where the capital was established atop the ruins of the Aztec Empire, the new capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru was built in Lima instead of Cuzco, the center of Inca authority, and the viceroyalty encompassed present-day Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.

Image credits:

Turquoise Mask, Mexico, Aztec-Mixtec, c. 1325-1521, Museo Nazionale Preistorico-Etnografico "Luigi Pigorini", Florence

Man's Ceremonial Tunic (Uncu) with Q'asana Design, Peru, Southern Highlands, mid to late 16th century, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 

Unknown, Folding Screen with Indian Wedding and Head-Flying Pole(Biombo con desposorio de indios y palo volador) (Detail), circa 1690, Purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund. M.2005.54. Photo © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA.

The Apparition of San Miguel del Milagro to Diego Lazaro (La aparicion de San Miguel del Milagro a Diego Lazaro), Mexico, first half of the 18th century, Museo Universitario de la Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla, Mexico.