Three hundred years of the history of Peru in the Paul Getty Museum

On July, 8 the Three Centuries of Visual History of Peru exhibition was opened in the Paul Getty Museum. Its exposition features works by the European artists who tried to reflect the strange and secret world of medieval Peru. The exhibition represents an original retrospective show of 300 years of interaction and mutual understanding of two absolutely different worlds, myths, stories and miracles.

When Francisco Pizarro and his fellow Spanish conquistadors first encountered Peru in 1524, they were shocked by the wholly unfamiliar world. The people, flora, fauna, topography, and cities begged for description and communication back to Europe. This exhibition explores the ways that artists depicted Peru and the new visual categories for classifying information they developed.

In conveying the characteristics and history of Peru over the first three centuries of its coexistence with European cultures, the image, accurate or not, was more powerful than text. Images took root in the imagination, defining the region and its cultural identities for the outside world. Knowledge of the exotic New World was compiled and spread through many genres of literature such as costume and botanical books, biographical anthologies, atlases, and travel accounts that were often inaccurate. There are many extent illustrations which help the readers to know the unique pictures which earliest explores saw.

At the heart of the exhibition are two illuminated manuscripts by Martín de Murúa, a Spanish friar who arrived in Peru in the late 1500s: Historia general del Piru (1616; General history of Peru) and Historia del origen, y genealogía real de los reyes ingas del Piru (1590; History of the origin and genealogy of the Incas of Peru). The manuscripts are the first extensively illustrated accounts of the history and customs of the Incas and their lives under Spanish rule. In them, individual kings, queens, and others from the aristocracy and military are depicted with faithfully rendered costumes and other accoutrements. Guaman Poma, the native Peruvian painted many of the illustrations in Murúa’s manuscripts, and wrote and illustrated his own chronicle. His images depict complex narratives about important cities, historical events, religious practices, and other customs.

The exhibition will be opened till October, 19.

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Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  

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