The Spurious Progressivism of Spanish Colonial Art at the San Diego Museum of Art

By Lucas Justinien Perez
Diego Rodrίguez de Silva y Velázquez, “Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus” (1619–20), oil on canvas, 21 5/8 x 46 1/2 inches (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Presented, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, 1987 (Beit Collection), NGI.4538)
SAN DIEGO — Art and Empire: The Golden Age of Spain at the San Diego Museum of Art assembles a collection of over 100 works from the four corners of the Spanish Empire at its zenith under Habsburg rule from 1516 to 1700. It includes works by such canonical figures as Diego Velázquez, Peter Paul Rubens, and El Greco. In a postcolonial society still deeply divided by race, gender, and class inequalities, how can we understand these works? The extensive exhibition attempts to retell the story of Spain’s golden age by highlighting the global exchange of cultures as seen in the empire’s art and its hugely diverse body of subjects. [More]
Attributed to José Montes de Oca, “Saint Benedict of Palermo” (ca. 1734), polychrome and gilt wood, glass, 49 x 34 5/8 x 16 1/2 inches (Minneapolis Institute of Art, the John R. Van Derlip Fund, 2010.27.2)