With Splendor and Saints, Hispanic society shows off its treasures

The wealth of cultural information in the Grolier Club exhibit – assembled by former Hispanic Society director Mitchell A. Codding and cu...

The wealth of cultural information in the Grolier Club exhibit – assembled by former Hispanic Society director Mitchell A. Codding and current curator of manuscripts and rare books, John O’Neill – provides the foundation for the exhibition of too few annotated sculptures. at the Audubon terrace. Yet it is the sculpture itself that is the eye-catcher, visual and emotional, and which we are still learning to appreciate.

The rise in three decades of identity politics and global consciousness has certainly contributed to this. This has resulted in an awareness on the part of our “encyclopedic” museums of what they have left behind. Spanish and Spanish colonial religious art from the 15th to the 18th century found its place in institutional collections and gained visibility through special exhibitions. A, “Alonso Berruguete: first sculptor of Renaissance Spain”, set up by the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Meadows Museum in Dallas, toured the country in 2019. And a year earlier, Spanish Baroque sculpture had played a prominent role in a contemporary group exhibition titled “Like life: sculpture, color and the body” at the Met Breuer, where Pedro de Mena and La Roldana shared space with Jeff Koons and Duane Hanson, and more than held theirs.

To do this, however, they had to be stripped of their social, political and spiritual values. They have been made “modern”, museumized. You must always visit the great churches of Spain, Mexico or the Philippines to see and feel how these images were meant to function as objects of devotion. And to fully understand this art, be true to it, and all religious art (which is, after all, the bulk of art surviving before the 20th century), you have to keep this need in mind.

In fact, the Hispanic Society’s golden numbers make it easier, because they don’t give us a lot of choice. They tell stories that many of us barely know, figures, human and divine, that we barely believe, and stories, natural and supernatural, that we barely understand. And they do it with such a strong, eerie dramatic power that we’re ready to suspend reservations and relish their passionate glow.

Golden figurines: Wood and clay in the flesh

Until January 9 at the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, 613 West 155th Street, Manhattan. 212-926-2234; hispanicsociety.org.

Treasures of the Hispanic Society Library

Until December 18 at the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, Manhattan. 212-838-6690; grolierclub.org.

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Newsrust - US Top News: With Splendor and Saints, Hispanic society shows off its treasures
With Splendor and Saints, Hispanic society shows off its treasures
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