Enfilade

Exhibition | Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 2, 2015

Fig-7_4a_SC313485_4x3

José Manuel de la Cerda, Desk-on-stand (detail), Pátzcuaro, Mexico, 18th century. Lacquered and polychromed wood with gilt decoration. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York.

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From the MFA:

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 18 August 2015 — 15 February 2016
Winterthur, Wilmington, Delaware, 26 March 2016 — 8 January 2017

Exquisite objects tell the story of the influence of Asia on the arts of colonial America.

Within decades of the ‘discovery’ of America by Spain in 1492, goods from Asia traversed the globe via Spanish and Portuguese traders. The Americas became a major destination for Asian objects and Mexico became an international hub of commerce. The impact of the importation of these goods was immediate and widespread, both among the European colonizers and the indigenous populations, who readily adapted their own artistic traditions to the new fashion for Asian imports.

Made in the Americas is the first large-scale, Pan-American exhibition to examine the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas. Featuring nearly 100 of the most extraordinary objects produced in the colonies, this exhibition explores the rich, complex story of how craftsmen throughout the hemisphere adapted Asian styles in a range of materials—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting. Exquisite objects from Mexico City, Lima, Quito, Quebec City, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, dating from the 17th to the early 19th centuries, include folding screens made in Mexico in imitation of imported Japanese and Chinese screens, blue-and-white talavera ceramics copied from imported Chinese porcelains, and luxuriously woven textiles made to replicate fine silks and cottons imported from China and India.

The timing of the exhibition marks the 450th anniversary of the beginning of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico, which was inaugurated in 1565 and ended in 1815, two and a half centuries later.

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From the MFA:

Dennis Carr, with contributions by Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Timothy Brook, Mitchell Codding, Karina H. Corrigan, and Donna Pierce, Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2015), 160 pages, ISBN: 978-0878468126, $50.

Made_in_Americas_978087846Made in the Americas reveals the largely overlooked history of the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas. Beginning in the sixteenth century, European outposts in the New World, especially those in New Spain, became a major nexus of the Asia export trade. Craftsmen from Canada to Peru, inspired by the sophisticated designs and advanced techniques of these imported goods, combined Asian styles with local traditions to produce unparalleled furniture, silverwork, textiles, ceramics, lacquer, painting, and architectural ornaments.

Among the exquisite objects featured in this book, from across the hemisphere and spanning the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries, are folding screens made in Mexico, in imitation of imported Japanese and Chinese screens; blue-and-white talavera ceramics copied from Chinese porcelains; luxuriously woven textiles, made to replicate fine silks and cottons from China and India; devotional statues that adapt Buddhist gods into Christian saints; and japanned furniture produced in colonial Boston that simulates Asian lacquer finishes. The stories these objects tell, compellingly related by leading scholars, bring to life the rich cultural interchange and the spectacular arts of the first global age.

Dennis Carr is Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Gauvin Alexander Bailey is Professor and Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque, Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.
Timothy Brook holds the Republic of China Chair in the Department of History and Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Mitchell Codding is Executive Director, The Hispanic Society of America, New York.
Karina H. Corrigan is H. A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art, Peabody Essex Museum.
Donna Pierce is Frederick & Jan Mayer Curator of Spanish Colonial Art, Denver Art Museum.

2 Responses

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  1. Emile de Bruijn said, on June 2, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Looking forward to learning more about this. For one thing, it puts ‘orientalism’ in a new perspective, since in the Americas ‘the East’ was actually in the west!

    • Editor said, on June 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Yes, Emile, it should be fascinating!


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