IMA Features Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World

The first exhibition to examine the religious visual culture of 17th-century Spain and Latin America is now at the Indianapolis Museum of Art through January 3, 2010. Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World brings to life the challenges faced by the most famous visual artists from that region.

Sacred Spain at the Indianapolis Museum of Art features works from El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, Alonso Cano, Franciso Ribalta, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Juan de Valdes Leal, Juan Correa, Cristobal de Villalpando and others, who were charged with the creative task of making religious images that were useful, truthful and moving. The exhibition includes more than 70 works of art, paintings, polychrome sculpture, metalwork and books, many of which have never before been seen in the United States. Sacred Spain will be on view exclusively in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Museum of Art from October 11, 2009 through January 3, 2010.

A $1 million grant from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation for Sacred Spain will allow the Indianapolis Museum of Art to offer free admission to the exhibition, reinforcing the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s reputation as a leader in making art accessible to all Indianapolis people.

Indianapolis Museum of Art Exhibition highlights include:

  • The legendary golden Crown of the Andes, made to adorn a statue of the Virgin Mary, venerated in Popayán (Colombia). The crown celebrates the devotion of the faithful to their protectress and makes visible the mystical tie with divinity. Set with 447 emeralds, the crown is the oldest and largest collection of emeralds in the world and has rarely been displayed publicly.
  • A life-size and realistically rendered sculpture, Juan Sánchez Barba’s Cristo Yacente, which is featured in Holy Week processions in Navalcarnero and has never been exhibited outside of the town.
  • Juan de Valdés Leal’s long-separated Allegory of Vanity and Allegory of Salvation, a pair of symbol-laden still lifes that contrast temporal attainments and eternal rewards.
  • A trompe l’oeil “statue painting” by Cristobal de Villalpando of a famous miracle-working image of the Virgen de la Soledad carved by Gaspar Becerra.
  • Francisco de Zurbarán’s Agnus Dei, an illusionistic rendering of a lamb bound for sacrifice and presented as the object of prayer.

This groundbreaking exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art offers a new perspective on the sacred art of the Spanish world during the baroque period. In a departure from usual museum practice, in which religious images are treated solely as historical or aesthetic artifacts, Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World recognizes the possibility of transcendent images and seeks to reassert the art museum as a primary venue for cultural interpretation based on a deeper understanding of the creation, reception and uses of art.

“While the scenes depicted in these works may be familiar to many, Sacred Spain puts these paintings and sculptures in the context of a pivotal period in Spanish history,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “This exhibition illuminates the remarkable role that the artist played at a time when art was believed to have divine power.”

The exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art will be divided into six key sections: In Defense of Images; True Likeness; Moving Images; With the Eyes of the Soul; Visualizing Sanctity; and Living with Images.

This is an exclusive Indianapolis art event. Peer into the world of Sacred Spain now at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Make a day of it by getting some good eats from the Indianapolis restaurants in the nearby Indianapolis cultural district, Broad Ripple Village. After the exhibit, enjoy the changing Fall colors in the Gardens of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, or walk the grounds of nearby Butler Univeristy. Indianapolis society is proud to house such a remarkable venue in the Circle City as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which constantly traffics cultural education throughout Indy.

Indianapolis Museum of Art
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Indianapolis, IN 46208

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