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The Blanton’s ‘Painted Cloth’ Exhibit Shines Light on Colonial Latin America

Art from Bolivia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela will be on display at the museum through Jan. 8

Explore the styles of another time period at the Blanton’s current exhibit, Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America. Open now through January 8, 2023, the show presents media created in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela during the 1600s and 1700s when the Spanish monarchy imposed their rule in the region.

Altar frontal, Cusco, circa 1780–1800, oil on canvas, 38 × 77 15/16 in., Museo de Arte de Lima, Donation in memory of Jorge Benavides de la Quintan

Beautiful and historically insightful, Painted Cloth gives visitors a view into the social hierarchy and religious way of life of its subjects by studying their clothing. The exposition tackles the many implications that one’s garment can have, especially at this period in history when Indigenous and European cultures were becoming intertwined.

View the display of portraits with figures postured in a ceremonious manner, wearing outfits made up of ornate embroidery and grand silhouettes. Take in the details of the masterfully crafted garments themselves and appreciate their significance.

De Lobo y Negra, Chino, Mexico City, circa 1775, oil on copper, 14 3/16 × 18 7/8 in., Museo de América, Madrid

“The elaborate fabrics, fashion and other richly textured works in this show are not only a feast for the eyes, they also will give our audiences a good look into everyday life during an era of dynamic cultural exchange and show how clothing — then as now — is so intertwined with our identities,” says Blanton director Simone Wicha. “Equally beautiful as it is insightful, Painted Cloth is sure to inspire conversations about race and colonialism’s complex legacies and offer a greater understanding of this period in Latin America’s history.”

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