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Press Release - Major Huntington Exhibition “Visual Voyages” and Array of Related Programing Set to Begin Sept. 16

August 23, 2017

 

Part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, “Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin,” is on view in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery
Sept. 16, 2017–Jan. 8, 2018

José María Velasco (1840–1912), Valle de México (The Valley of Mexico), 1877, oil on canvas, 63 3/16 × 90 7/16 in. Museo Nacional de Arte, INBA, Mexico City, SIGROPAM 24433. Reproduction authorized by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature, 2016.

José María Velasco (1840–1912), Valle de México (The Valley of Mexico), 1877, oil on canvas, 63 3/16 × 90 7/16 in. Museo Nacional de Arte, INBA, Mexico City, SIGROPAM 24433. Reproduction authorized by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature, 2016.

 

SAN MARINO, Calif.— A sweeping international loan exhibition at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens opens on Sept. 16, 2017 to explore how the depiction of Latin American nature contributed to art and science from the late 1400s to the mid-1800s. “Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin,” presented in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery through Jan. 8, 2018, features more than 150 paintings, rare books, illustrated manuscripts, prints, and drawings from The Huntington’s holdings as well as from dozens of other collections. Many of these works will be on view for the first time in the United States. It is complemented by a richly illustrated book, along with an array of other programs and exhibitions, including an installation created by Mexican experimental composer Guillermo Galindo. The exhibition is a part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art that involves more than 70 arts institutions across Southern California.

 

“Despite notorious depredation of people and resources during the period, the brilliant work of a number of Latin Americans and Europeans helped to illuminate our understanding of the natural world,” said Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington and co-curator of “Visual Voyages.” “We aim to shed light on this relatively unexamined piece of the story—to show how beautiful, surprising, and deeply captivating depictions of nature in Latin America reshaped our understanding of the region and, indeed, the world—essentially linking art and the natural sciences.”

 

“Visual Voyages” looks at how indigenous peoples, Europeans, Spanish Americans, and individuals of mixed-race descent depicted natural phenomena for a range of purposes and from a variety of perspectives: artistic, cultural, religious, commercial, medical, and scientific. The exhibition examines the period that falls roughly between Christopher Columbus's first voyage in 1492 and Charles Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, a work based largely on Darwin’s own voyage to the region in the 1830s.

 

“Information and materials circulated at an unprecedented rate as people transformed their relationship to the natural world and to each other,” said Daniela Bleichmar, associate professor of art history and history at the University of Southern California (USC) and co-curator of the exhibition. “Images served not only as artistic objects of great beauty but also as a means of experiencing, understanding, and possessing the natural world. These depictions circulated widely and allowed viewers—then and now—to embark on their own ‘visual voyages’.”

 

Bleichmar, who was born in Argentina and raised in Mexico, is an expert on the history of science, art, and cultural contact in the early modern period. Her publications include the prize-winning book Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

 

The Huntington’s three collection areas—library, art, and botanical—all contribute to “Visual Voyages.” Its Library is one of the world’s greatest research institutions in the fields of British and American history, art, and the history of science, stretching from the 11th century to the present, and includes such treasures as the first European depiction of a pineapple and a rare 16th-century manuscript atlas that includes three stunning maps of the Americas. From The Huntington’s art holdings, Frederic Edwin Church’s monumental painting Chimborazo (1864) will be on display, depicting a Latin American landscape both real and imaginary. The Huntington’s 120 acres of gardens include several thousand plant species from Latin America, including pineapple, cacao, various orchids including vanilla, and succulents.

 

Visitor Experience

Designed by Chu+Gooding Architects of Los Angeles, “Visual Voyages” engages visitors through an evocative installation that includes interactive media, display cases of specimens and rare materials, and visually arresting depictions of botanical specimens and still lifes.

 

The exhibition opens with a display of taxidermy mounts to make vivid the rare animals that captured the imagination of Europeans and were avidly collected during the period.

 

“Visual Voyages” then begins with a section on “Rewriting the Book of Nature,” in which manuscripts, maps, and publications show how nature came to be reconsidered in the first century of contact. This section includes a copy of the 1493 letter Christopher Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain while on the return leg of his first voyage to the New World. He writes that the region is “so fertile that, even if I could describe it, one would have difficulty believing in its existence.” This section highlights the many works by indigenous peoples to the exploration of New World nature, among them two large-scale maps painted by indigenous artists in Mexico and Guatemala; a volume from the Florentine Codex, a 16th-century Mexican manuscript on loan from the Laurentian Library, Florence; and a spectacular feather cape created by the Tupinambá of Brazil in the 17th century.

 

Next, a gallery called “The Value of Nature” explores the intertwining of economic and spiritual approaches to Latin American nature. Commercial interests resulted in the investigation, depiction, and commodification of such natural resources as tobacco and chocolate. Indigenous religions considered the natural world to be infused with the divine, while Christian perspectives led observers to envision Latin American nature as both rich in signs of godliness as well as marked with signs of the devil—and needing eradication. Various depictions of the passion flower, a New World plant, show how the flower’s form recalled to missionaries the instruments of Christ’s Passion.

 

A third section, “Collecting: From Wonder to Order,” shows how the “wonder” that European collectors held for the astonishing material coming from the New World became a desire to possess and, later, to “order” this material, following systems of taxonomy and classification. On view will be a set of large and impressive paintings depicting Brazilian fruits and vegetables by the Dutch painter Albert Eckhout (ca.1610–1665) as well as 20 artful, vivid, and detailed drawings of botanical specimens painted by artists from New Granada (present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, northern Brazil, and western Guyana), never before seen in the United States.

 

The final section of the exhibition, called “New Landscapes,” examines scientific and artistic perspectives on Latin America created in the 19th century, a period when a new wave of voyagers explored the region and wars of independence resulted in the emergence of new nations. The Romantic and imperial visions of artists and scientists from Europe and the U.S. are juxtaposed with the patriotic and modernizing visions of artists and scientists from Latin America, who envisioned nature as an integral part of national identity. This juxtaposition can be seen visually in the pairing of The Huntington’s monumental Chimborazo by Church with the equally monumental Valley of Mexico (1877) by Mexican painter José María Velasco, on loan from the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City.

 

Gallery text is in Spanish and English.

 

Exhibition Catalog

“Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin” is accompanied by a hardcover book of the same title written by Daniela Bleichmar, co-curator of the exhibition. In a narrative addressed to general audiences as well as students and scholars, Bleichmar reveals the fascinating story of the interrelationship of art and science in Latin America and Europe during the period. Published by Yale University Press in association with The Huntington, the 240-page book contains 153 color illustrations. $50.00. Available beginning in September 2017 at the Huntington Store and online.

 

Related Exhibitions and Programs

 

“Human Nature: Sonic Botany”

Sept 16, 2017–Jan 8, 2018

Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art

A mix of audio and visuals created by experimental composer, sonic architect, and performance artist Guillermo Galindo, this installation features a series of graphic representations of musical scores inspired by the “Visual Voyages” exhibition. The installation is part of USC Annenberg’s Musical Interventions, a series of public events organized for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA by Josh Kun, historian of popular music and recently named MacArthur Fellow.

 

“Visual Voyages in the Gardens”

Sept 16, 2017–Jan 8, 2018

Throughout the Botanical Gardens

Visitors can enrich their experience of “Visual Voyages” by strolling the botanical gardens in search of the real-life specimens of plants they have seen depicted in the gallery. Keep your eyes peeled for two dozen “Visual Voyages” signs, pointing to cacao, pineapple, tobacco, and other plants indigenous to Latin America.

 

“Nuestro Mundo”

Sept. 16, 2017–Jan. 8, 2018, weekends only

Flora-Legium Gallery, Brody Botanical Center

The two dozen paintings in this installation are the work of young adults ages 18 to 26 who are mentored by Art Division, a nonprofit organization that provides training and support for Los Angeles youth from underserved communities pursuing careers in the visual arts. The students used “Visual Voyages” as inspiration.

 

“In Pursuit of Flora: 18th-Century: Botanical Drawings from The Huntington’s Art Collections”

Oct. 28, 2017–Feb. 19, 2018

Huntington Art Gallery, Works on Paper Room

European exploration of other lands during the so-called Age of Discovery revealed a vast new world of plant life that required description, cataloging, and recording. By the 18th century, the practice of botanical illustration had become an essential tool in the study of natural history. From lusciously detailed drawings of fruit and flowers by Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708–1770), a collaborator of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, to depictions of more exotic examples by Matilda Conyers (1753–1803), “In Pursuit of Flora” reveals 18th-century European appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.

 

Taste of Art: Visual Voyages through Latin America

Sept. 30 or Oct. 7 (Saturday)

9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Explore connections among art, science, and the environment in the exhibition, then head to the kitchen to prepare a Latin American-inspired meal. Maite Gomez-Rejón of ArtBites leads the workshop. Members: $85. Non-Members: $100. Register online.

 

Talk and Book Signing: The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World

Oct. 15 (Sunday) 2:30 p.m.

Rothenberg Hall

Join best-selling author Andrea Wulf for a talk about the life of explorer, scientist, and early environmentalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), the subject of her most recent book, The Invention of Nature. Her talk will focus on Humboldt’s explorations of Latin America. Free; no reservations required.

 

Wark Lecture

Seeing and Knowing: Visions of Latin American Nature, ca.1492–1859

Oct. 16 (Monday) 7:30 p.m.

Rothenberg Hall

Historian Daniela Bleichmar, co-curator of the exhibition, discusses the surprising and little-known story of the pivotal role that Latin America played in the pursuit of science and art during the first global era. A book signing and coffee reception will follow the talk. Free; no reservations required.

 

Curator Tour: Visual Voyages

Oct. 18 (Wednesday) 5-6 p.m.

Join exhibition co-curator Daniela Bleichmar for a private tour of “Visual Voyages.” Members: $15. Non-Members: $20. Register online.

 

Guillermo Galindo Performance

Human Nature: Sonic Botany

Nov. 4 (Saturday), noon - 1 p.m.

Rose Hills Garden Court

Experimental composer, sonic architect, and performance artist Guillermo Galindo presents a work inspired by “Visual Voyages.” The program is part of USC Annenberg’s Musical Interventions, a series of public events organized for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA by Josh Kun, historian of popular music and recently named a MacArthur Fellow. Free with admission.

 

Conference at the Getty Center

Indigenous Knowledge and the Making of Colonial Latin America

Dec. 8–10, 2017

This symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore the role of indigenous knowledge in the making of colonial Latin America. Curator-led visits to two related exhibitions—“Visual Voyages” at The Huntington and “Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas” at The Getty—will allow participants to view examples of work by indigenous artists and authors, including several rare pictorial manuscripts (codices). The symposium is organized by Daniela Bleichmar, co-curator of “Visual Voyages” and Kim Richter, co-curator of “Golden Kingdoms” and senior research specialist at the Getty Research Institute, with funding from the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, the Seaver Institute, and the Getty Research Institute. For registration and more information, visit getty.edu.

 

Lecture
Cochineal in the History of Art and Global Trade

Dec. 10 (Sunday) 2:30 p.m.

Rothenberg Hall

Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg of the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden and Oaxaca Textile Museum will explore the historical and cultural significance of this natural crimson dye. Used from antiquity, cochineal became Mexico’s second-most valued export after silver during the Spanish colonial period. Free; no reservations required.

 

# # #

 

Contacts
Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260, tpage@huntington.org
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, lblackburn@huntington.org

 

About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org

 

Visitor Information
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org.

 

Credit line

“Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin” is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

 

Major support for this exhibition is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.

 

Generous support is provided by Scott Jordan, Sharon and John Light, and in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by Laura and Carlton Seaver, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation Exhibition and Education Endowment, and The Melvin R. Seiden-Janine Luke Exhibition Fund in memory of Robert F. Erburu.

 

Paint for this exhibition is provided by Farrow & Ball.

 


Images

Request Images

 

José María Carbonell, Loranthus, Royal Botanical Expedition to the New Kingdom of Granada led by José Celestino Mutis (1783–1816), tempera on paper, approx. 21¼ × 15 in. Archivo del Real Jardín Botánico- CSIC (Madrid).

José María Carbonell, Loranthus, Royal Botanical Expedition to the New Kingdom of Granada led by José Celestino Mutis (1783–1816), tempera on paper, approx. 21¼ × 15 in. Archivo del Real Jardín Botánico- CSIC (Madrid).

 


Le vrais Bresil es province du Quito (The true Brazil, a province of Quito), in Vallard Atlas, Dieppe (France), 1547, tempera, gold paint, gold leaf, and black ink on parchment, 14 ½ × 18 ¾ in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Le vrais Bresil es province du Quito (The true Brazil, a province of Quito), in Vallard Atlas, Dieppe (France), 1547, tempera, gold paint, gold leaf, and black ink on parchment, 14 ½ × 18 ¾ in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

 


Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), Chimborazo, 1864, oil on canvas, 48 × 84 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation. © Fredrik Nilsen photography.

Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), Chimborazo, 1864, oil on canvas, 48 × 84 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation. © Fredrik Nilsen photography.

 


Albert Eckhout (ca. 1610–1666), Fruits, pineapple and melon, etc., 1640–50, oil on canvas, 35 13/16 × 35 13/16 in. Photo: John Lee, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, N.92.

Albert Eckhout (ca. 1610–1666), Fruits, pineapple and melon, etc., 1640–50, oil on canvas, 35 13/16 × 35 13/16 in. Photo: John Lee, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, N.92.

 


Feathered cape, Tupinambá people, Brazil, 17th century, feathers and vegetable fibers, 70 ¾ × 59 × 39 ⅓ in. Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels, AAM 5783, © RMAH.

Feathered cape, Tupinambá people, Brazil, 17th century, feathers and vegetable fibers, 70 ¾ × 59 × 39 ⅓ in. Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels, AAM 5783, © RMAH.

 


Nopal planta que se cría en la América y que produce la grana (The nopal plant that is grown in America and produces cochineal), in Reports on the History, Organization, and Status of Various Catholic Dioceses of New Spain and Peru, 1620–49, pigment and ink on paper. The Newberry Library, Chicago, Ayer MS 1106 D8 Vault Box 1 Folder 15.

Nopal planta que se cría en la América y que produce la grana (The nopal plant that is grown in America and produces cochineal), in Reports on the History, Organization, and Status of Various Catholic Dioceses of New Spain and Peru, 1620–49, pigment and ink on paper. The Newberry Library, Chicago, Ayer MS 1106 D8 Vault Box 1 Folder 15.

 


Le Chimborazo, vu depuis le plateau de Tapia (Chimborazo Seen from the Tapia Plateau) in Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Vues des cordillères, et monuments des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique, (View of the cordilleras and monuments of the indigenous peoples of the Americas), Paris: F. Schoell, 1810–13, color aquatint, mezzotint, engraving, and etching with watercolor, 20 × 27 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Le Chimborazo, vu depuis le plateau de Tapia (Chimborazo Seen from the Tapia Plateau) in Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Vues des cordillères, et monuments des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique, (View of the cordilleras and monuments of the indigenous peoples of the Americas), Paris: F. Schoell, 1810–13, color aquatint, mezzotint, engraving, and etching with watercolor, 20 × 27 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

 


Antonio García Cubas (1832–1912), agricultural map in Atlas pintoresco é historico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, (Picturesque and historical atlas of the United States of Mexico), Mexico City: Debray Sucesores, 1885, chromolithograph, 24 13/16 × 30 11/16 in. The Newberry Library, Chicago, Ayer 655.59.G2.

Antonio García Cubas (1832–1912), agricultural map in Atlas pintoresco é historico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, (Picturesque and historical atlas of the United States of Mexico), Mexico City: Debray Sucesores, 1885, chromolithograph, 24 13/16 × 30 11/16 in. The Newberry Library, Chicago, Ayer 655.59.G2.

 


Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590) and indigenous artists and scribes, description and illustration of Mexican medicinal herbs in the Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, (General History of the Things of New Spain), also known as the Florentine Codex, ca. 1577, ink and color on paper, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence Ms. Med. Laur. Palat. 220. Reproduced with permission of MiBACT.

Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590) and indigenous artists and scribes, description and illustration of Mexican medicinal herbs in the Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, (General History of the Things of New Spain), also known as the Florentine Codex, ca. 1577, ink and color on paper, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence Ms. Med. Laur. Palat. 220. Reproduced with permission of MiBACT.

 


Vicente Albán, Yapanga from Quito, Quito (Ecuador), 1783, oil on canvas, 31 ½ × 42 15/16 in. Museo de América, Madrid, 00074.

Vicente Albán, Yapanga from Quito, Quito (Ecuador), 1783, oil on canvas, 31 ½ × 42 15/16 in. Museo de América, Madrid, 00074.

 


Intermediate Stages of Blooming, in John Fisk Allen (1785–1865), Victoria regia; or, The Great Water Lily of America, Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1854, chromolithograph, 15 × 21 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Intermediate Stages of Blooming, in John Fisk Allen (1785–1865), Victoria regia; or, The Great Water Lily of America, Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1854, chromolithograph, 15 × 21 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

 


 

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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