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Volume 56 / Humanities


Colonial: South America

HUMBERTO RODRIGUEZ-CAMILLONI, Professor and Director, Henry H. Wiss Center for Theory and History of Art and Architecture, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

WORKS REVIEWED FOR THIS VOLUME of HLAS reflect significant advances in scholarship on the history of art and architecture of Latin America. More and more titles are published every year that stress comparative views between the Old and New Worlds, and across the American continent. Even though essential surveys containing factual information continue to be completed in various countries, by region, province, or city, there is also an unprecedented increase in studies that apply new methods of analysis and interpretation. As a result, Spanish American colonial art and architecture can now be more appreciated within the context of the history of ideas, which, one hopes, will lead to an even wider recognition of their unique qualities.

Outstanding examples reviewed during this biennium include Reframing the Renaissance: visual culture in Europe and Latin America (item bi 96000311), with a collection of high quality essays that attempt to reevaluate the Eurocentrism of Italian Renaissance art history; Héctor H. Schenone's Iconografía del arte colonial (item bi 95000105), a monumental reference work on the iconography of the Christian saints depicted in Latin American colonial art; and Las misiones jesuíticas del Guayrá (item bi 95000058), the second volume in ICOMOS-UNESCO's "La Herencia de la Humanidad" series that documents some of the problems affecting the conservation of historic monuments on the World's Heritage List.

Important studies on iconography and iconology of South American colonial art and architecture include Ramón Mujica Pinilla's Angeles apócrifos en la América virreinal (item bi 95000097); Jorge A. Flores Ochoa's El Cvzco: resistencia y continuidad (item bi 95000100); and Rafael Ramos Sosa's Arte festivo en Lima virreinal (item bi 96012534). These well-documented studies suggest new approaches for the analysis and interpretation of art from this period. The identification and discussion of little-known sources and the special emphasis on the relationships between art and ritual are of vital importance.

The largest number of titles are fairly evenly distributed among architecture, painting, and sculpture, but urban history, historic preservation, and the decorative arts are also represented. The continuing support of several financial institutions - such as Banco de la República in Colombia, Banco de los Andes in Ecuador, and Banco Latino in Peru - has again made possible the publication of deluxe editions with excellent illustrations that are contributing to a new international appreciation of the rich artistic heritage of the Spanish colonial period. Fine examples of this type of publication are Gustavo Mateus Cortés' Tunja: el arte de los siglos XVI, XVII, XVIII (item bi 95000057); Ximena Escudero de Terán's América y España en la escultura colonial quiteña: historia de un sincretismo (item bi 95000064); and Museo de Arte de Lima: 100 obras maestras (item bi 95000068).

The Banco de Crédito del Perú has also released Jorge A. Flores Ochoa, Elizabeth Kuon Arce, and Roberto Samanez Argumedo's groudbreaking Pintura mural en el sur andino (item bi 95000069) as part of the celebrated "Colección Arte y Tesoros del Perú." This monumental work and Pablo Macera's La pintura mural andina, siglos XVI-XIX (item bi 96012382) have opened a new chapter in the history of Spanish American colonial art by uncovering a significant corpus of virtually unknown mural paintings that rival contemporary examples from Mexico and Colombia.

The relatively recent inclusion of a number of historic monuments and sites from South American countries in the UNESCO World's Heritage List has served as the impetus for the publication of major books documenting the histories of the sites and restoration works performed to date, thus offering a wealth of enormously valuable information for future comparative studies. Such is the case with the work on the Jesuit missions of Paraguay mentioned above (item bi 95000058), to which should be added Antonio Eduardo Bösl's Una joya en la selva boliviana: la restauración del templo colonial de Concepción (item bi 95000099) and Alcides J. Parejas Moreno and Virgilio Suárez Salas' Chiquitos: historia de una utopía (item bi 95000107). Similarly, the city of Quito has been the subject of various studies concerning problems of conservation of the historic center and its momuments. Potosí is also elegantly documented by Daniel Gluckmann in another volume of the series "Colección Ciudades Iberoamericanas" (item bi 95000061).

The decorative arts are mostly represented by studies on silverwork, a subject that has received increasing attention in recent years. Most valuable here is the new monumental reference work by Alejandro Fernández, Marcas de la plata española y virreinal (item bi 95000086), which will greatly facilitate the identification of marks and inscriptions used by silversmiths in Spain and Spanish America. Arte hispanoamericano en Navarra: plata, pintura, y escultura (item bi 95000070), by María del Carmen Heredia Moreno, exemplifies a model survey of Spanish American colonial art in Spain; and patient archival work by the same author provides useful data on legislation governing the work of Peruvian silversmiths (item bi 94003552).

Publications associated with special symposia and exhibitions merit separate mention. Several of these events were organized as part of the celebration of the Quincentennial of the discovery of the Americas, which offered a unique opportunity to give maximum visibility to the artistic heritage of Spanish America. Two of these publications stand out as major contributions to the study and interpretation of Mudejar art: Mudéjar iberoamericano: una expresión cultural de dos mundos (item bi 95000089) and El mudéjar iberoamericano: del Islam al Nuevo Mundo (item bi 96012264). Containing original research by leading scholars in the field, both works should be indispensable references for years to come. Although much more modest in scope, also belonging to this category are Ramón Mujica Pinilla's Los Cristos de Lima: esculturas en madera y marfil, s. XVI-XVIII (item bi 95000091) and Rolena Adorno et. al.'s Guamán Poma de Ayala: the colonial art of an Andean author (item bi 96012402).

Proceedings from the Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte (17th, Zacatecas, Mexico, 1993) were published a year later in three volumes by the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Univ. Nacional Autónoma de México. Although not restricted to South American colonial topics, the collected essays represent a healthy cross-section of current state-of-the-art research in the field. A paper this author devoted to the study of quincha architecture in Peru is reviewed below (item bi 96012536).

Also worthy of note is the international conference on "Cultural Transmission and Transformation in the Ibero-American World, 1200-1800," which was held at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, in October 1995, with the participation of a distinguished group of scholars. It is anticipated that the papers, dealing with various aspects of transmission and transformation of European and Mesoamerican architecture and sacred art, will be published in electronic form in the near future by the Inter-American Institute for Advanced Studies in Cultural History, under the direction of Dr. James B. Kiracofe.

In addition, on Mar. 1, 1996, New York's Brooklyn Museum opened the spectacular exhibition "Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America," which explores the evolution of the Spanish American Viceroyalties of New Spain (Mexico) and Peru through 250 works, including painting, sculpture, costumes, textiles, domestic and religious objects, as well as illustrated manuscripts. The exhibition largely consists of works from the Brooklyn Museum's permanent collection of Spanish colonial material, which is one of the largest in the US. According to its handsome companion catalog, the exhibit aims to examine issues of identity as they were expressed and reflected in a wide range of objects and images, studying both native contributions and examples of European imported culture. The exhibition also traveled to the Phoenix Art Museum (Dec. 1996-Feb. 1997) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Mar. 30-June 8, 1997).

Finally, it is with deep sorrow that I have to report on the recent deaths of three distinguished colleagues and personal friends, Damián Bayón, Santiago Sebastián López, and María Dolores Aguilar García. Their lifelong contributions to the study of Iberoamerican art and architecture have been chronicled in several volumes of HLAS and many other publications. Their passing has left a tremendous void in the field, and they will always be remembered with respect and admiration. With affection and gratitude, this section is dedicated to their memory.

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