PERU: KINGDOMS OF THE SUN AND THE MOON
October 17, 2013-January 5, 2014
**SAM is the only U.S. venue for this comprehensive collection of rare Peruvian treasures covering 3,000 years of history
This fall, Seattle Art Museum (SAM) will present Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon. On display from October 17, 2013 through January 5, 2014, the exhibition features more than 300 spectacular treasures chronicling Peru’s rich cultural history from the Pre-Hispanic era to the Colonial period and from independence to the modern art movement of Indigenism.
Uncover a millennia-old culture now considered one of the six cradles of civilization along with Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China and Mexico. Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon invites visitors to discover Peru’s vibrant history and experience this vital and ancient country during its most influential and identity-forming periods.
“SAM is honored to be the only museum in the United States to host this breathtaking exhibition of rare Peruvian art spanning 30 centuries” said Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director. “The exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to experience the power, beauty and mystery of these remarkable objects and the window they provide into history.”
Many of Peru’s ancient treasures and artifacts are included in this spectacular exhibition, including a rare Mochica forehead ornament (pictured above) made of gold and shells. It is being exhibited for the first time in the United States since its return to Peru in 2006. Crafted for a Mochica ruler between 100 and 800 A.D., this ornament is believed to have been buried at a site on Peru’s northern coast. Looted in 1988, and later recovered by Scotland Yard in London, the piece was returned to Peru in 2006.
Superb and rarely seen works of sculpture, metalwork, painting and textiles from the Mochica, Chimú and Inca cultures give visitors a taste of Pre-Columbian Peru’s rich cultural heritage. One of the most complete sets of adornments known today is included in the exhibition. The seven-piece set of head and body ornaments, made of an alloy of gold, silver and copper, gives an idea of the rich body ornamentation belonging to the Chimú elite.
Paintings of saints and liturgical processions provide insight into the initial overlay of Christianity and the syncretism drawing from indigenous and Spanish religious traditions following the Spanish conquest in 1532. A selection of Peruvian post-independence artworks is showcased illustrating the re-emergence of native aesthetic identities and the reaffirmation of Peru’s local heritage after independence from Spain in 1821 and into modern times.
Mythical Peru, the cradle of Andean civilization, and its Pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern history is examined and explored in sections organized thematically and historically.
The organization of this exhibition provides insights of breadth and depth into the ebb and flow of ancient cultures and their art, the artistry that resulted from Spanish and native interactions, and the works of the modern era that re-established a Peruvian aesthetic and identity. The principal thematic thread that unifies the show is the reverence for the past and pride in having one of the longest histories of artistic excellence and invention.
“The sophistication of the Peruvian artistry stands out in this exhibition,” said Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art. “Beautifully crafted works in ceramic, noble metals, precious stones and alpaca fiber dazzle the eye and speak to the importance of art and its connection to political and visual diplomacy. Stunning paintings and sculptures attest to the inventive ways artists negotiated two different world views while, after independence, modern Peruvian artists who envisioned an inclusive society used prints, photographs, paintings and popular arts to deploy their messages. ”
The first section explains how archaeology rewrote Peru’s national history with photographs of Machu Picchu, the Incan citadel, by American explorer Hiram Bingham during his excavation of the site beginning in 1911. It continues through to more recent restitutions of artworks back to Peru, describing along the way how each archeological discovery acted as a source of identity for Peruvians during the era of nation building in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The second section focuses on the myths and rituals of the early civilizations of the Andes including the discovery in 1987 of the first intact tomb of a ruler of ancient Peru which lead to the discovery of a total of 15 royal tombs. The human remains of the “Lord of Sipán” were found in a wooden coffin along with an impressive set of ornaments and emblems in gold, silver and turquoise. This discovery, by archeologist Walter Alva, is the most significant find in Peru since that of Machu Picchu.
The relationship with death, particularly the constant dialogue between the world of the living and the dead, is an essential component of Andean spirituality. This section of the exhibition will focus on objects associated with the sacrificial ceremonies practiced by the Mochica people (200 to 800 C. E.) and the funerary rites of the Chimú and Lambayeque cultures (11th and 15th century C.E.).
The third section illustrates the perpetuation, concealment, and hybridization of the indigenous culture during the colonial period. Beginning with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century C.E. and continuing until Peru’s independence in 1821, this section features paintings and ceremonial objects that illustrate both the adoption of Catholicism and the syncretism and blending of Christianity with indigenous religious practices and cultural values.
The final section highlights the rediscovery of indigenous Peruvian culture in the 20th century and the revalorization of ancient symbols of identity in contemporary Peruvian iconography. Works in this section demonstrate the idealization of Peru’s Pre-Hispanic past, especially the Inca Empire, as well as an overarching interest with the contemporary local subjects of indigenous peoples and the Peruvian countryside, exploring the way this recombination of the past with the present has transformed Peruvian art in the Modern period.
Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Seattle presentation of this exhibition is made possible with critical funding provided by SAM’s Fund for Special Exhibitions.
Exhibition Sponsors are Microsoft and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. Major Sponsors are Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, the Snoqualmie Tribe, Starbucks and Wells Fargo. Additional support is provided by Port Madison Enterprises and the Kreielsheimer Exhibition Endowment. Print Media Sponsor is The Seattle Times. Official Airlines Sponsor is Delta Air Lines.
For more information please visit: The Seattle Art Museum
-listing posted by Joanne Molina