Presented by Ilona Katzew, curator and department head, Latin American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

The early modern era (ca. 1500–1800 CE) was a period marked by imperial expansionism, conquest, and colonization. Cataclysmic social and geopolitical shifts brought people into closer contact than ever before—in real and imagined ways—propelling the creative refashioning of the material culture that surrounded them. Established over the last fifteen years, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s collection encompasses a splendid range of paintings, textiles, and decorative arts represented in Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500–1800. The central theme of the exhibition and much of the impetus behind the formation of the collection is the connection of cultures and ideas in the early modern world. In light of the rising interest in Spanish American art internationally, this talk will address the pivotal role that museums can play in shaping the field and promoting discussion.

About Ilona Katzew

Recognized as one of the leading curators and scholars in her field, Ilona Katzew formed LACMA’s collection of Spanish American art and has made highly visible acquisitions of modern and contemporary Latin American art, including design. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including New World Orders (Americas Society, 1996); Inventing Race: Casta Painting and Eighteenth-Century Mexico (LACMA, 2004); Contemporary Projects 9: Gajin Fujita and Pablo Vargas Lugo (LACMA, 2005); and Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World (LACMA and Museo Nacional de Historia “Castillo de Chapultepec,” Mexico City, 2011–12). She was project director and co-curator of Painted in Mexico,1700–1790: Pinxit Mexici (2017–18), which was also presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Fomento Cultural Banamex in Mexico City. The show was selected by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as one of the top exhibitions of the year, and the catalogue received multiple prizes for scholarly excellence. Katzew has been awarded several scholarly fellowships (the Met, Getty, and Fulbright, among others). Her books and edited volumes, many award winning, include New World Orders: Casta Painting and Colonial Latin America (1996), Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico (2004), Una visión del México del Siglo de las Luces: La codificación de Joaquín Antonio de Basarás (2006), Race and Classification: The Case of Mexican America (co-edited with Susan Deans-Smith, 2009), Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World (2011), and Painted in Mexico, 1700–1790: Pinxit Mexici (2017). She has lectured widely across the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Katzew received her PhD from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Image: Unidentified artists. Sewing or Jewelry Box (Costurero o joyero), last third of the 18th century. Wood, inlaid with mother-of pearl and tortoiseshell, brass, silver, and paint; diameter: 15 3/4 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund. Photo: Galerie Terrades, Paris

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