LACMA to Show Colombian Gold, Bolivian Pietá

Melchor Pérez Holguín, Pietá, about 1720 (pre-conservation). To be shown in "Archive of the World." LACMA

LACMA hasn't shown much pre-contemporary art lately, but that will change somewhat this spring (notwithstanding the big Barbara Kruger retrospective). Scheduled are shows on the Paris of early cinema and Impressionism; ancient Colombian goldwork; and the museum's collection of Spanish American art. The latter exhibition, long in planning and delayed by the pandemic, is to debut the rare and spectacular Pietá, purchased in 2019, by Bolivian Baroque painter Melchor Pérez Holguín.

House Model of Circular Dwelling, 200 BC–1300 AD, to be shown in "Portable Universe." Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Photograph (c) the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
"Portable Universe / El Universe en Tus Manos: Thought and Splendor of Indigenous Colombia" (May 29–Oct. 2, 2022) is co-organized by LACMA, the Museo del Oro, Bogota, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Like LACMA's current "Mixpantli: Space, Time, and the Indigenous Origins of Mexico" (through May 1), it will present Indigenous perspectives on art heretofore defined by European games of global domination ("Pre-Colombian"). Unlike "Mixpantli," it will have about 400 real objects, not facsimiles, and a catalog

"Archive of the World: Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500—1800" (June 12–Oct, 2022) will present about 90 works from LACMA's Spanish American collection, whose existence is a model of wise deaccessioning. Now spanning over three centuries, it has mostly been assembled from funds provided by selling lesser Mexican modern works from the Bernard and Edith Lewin collection. The Spanish American collection is now one of the most important in the U.S. "Archive of the World" will be LACMA's second large show of Spanish American painting in five years, following 2017's "Painted in Mexico, 1700–1790: Pinxit Mexico."

"Archive" will include several new acquisitions, most notably the Pérez Holguín Pietá, which has undergone a makeover in the conservation studio. In a March 2020 interview with Apollo, LACMA curator Ilona Katzew said,

"We’re only in the initial phases of the conservation project, so it’s hard to predict the outcome, but the idea is to approximate the work’s original splendour. Our team of conservators, led by Joseph Fronek, is highly respectful of the paintings they work with and aim to understand as much as possible about the artist’s intentions before undertaking treatment. I hope we will all benefit from their findings, continue building on them, and enjoy the outcome."

Vicente Albán, Noble Woman with Her Black Slave, about 1783, to be shown in "Archive of the World." Photo (c) Museum Associates/LACMA Conservation

Barbara Kruger, Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You, 2019, to be shown in "Barbara Kruger" (opening Mar. 20, 2022)


Anonymous said…
Although most museums collect more than they're able to display, something about LACMA tearing down existing buildings in order to create a replacement that's smaller in size is a case of adding insult to injury.

Well, at least the museum's budget is very healthy and totally in the black.

I can hardly wait to see LACMA's draperies. I wonder if they'll be polyester sheer?
Anonymous said…
I wonder why LACMA isn’t using this time to display more of its permanent collection in the Resnick Pavilion? Why does only modern art get its permanent gallery space (in BCAM) while the rest of the collection sits in storage?
Colonial and Indiginous art from Latin America are far outside my ken.
But re the stunning image of the "House Model of Circular Dwelling", 200 BC–AD 1300, Calima [Colombia], Gold, 4 1/4 × 4 in. diameter (10.8 × 10.2 cm), Collection Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston:
I'm intrigued that scholarship in this culture still cannot narrow the vast date range for works like this.