The vitality and inventiveness of artists in eighteenth-century New Spain (Mexico) is the focus of this exhibition, which presents some 110 works of art (primarily paintings), many of which are unpublished and newly restored. The exhibition surveys the most important artists and stylistic developments of the period and highlights the emergence of new pictorial genres and subjects. It is the first major exhibition devoted to this neglected topic.
The eighteenth century ushered in a period of pictorial splendor in Mexico as local schools of painting were consolidated, new iconographies were invented, and painters explored new ways to invigorate their art. Attesting to their extraordinary versatility, the artists who created mural-size paintings to cover the walls of sacristies, choirs, and university halls were often the same ones who produced portraits, casta paintings (depictions of racially mixed families), painted folding screens, and finely rendered devotional imagery. The volume of work produced by the four generations of Mexican artists that spanned the eighteenth century is virtually unmatched elsewhere in the Spanish world.
The growing professional self-awareness of artists during the period led many educated painters not only to sign their works to emphasize their authorship but also to make explicit reference to Mexico as their place of origin through the Latin phrase pinxit Mexici (painted in Mexico). This expression eloquently encapsulates the painters' pride in their own tradition and their connection to larger, transatlantic trends.
The exhibition is made possible by the Placido Arango Fund, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, Fundación Diez Morodo, A.C., and Citibanamex.
It is co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Fomento Cultural Banamex.