Benson Goes for Baroque

Iglesia de Santa María Tonantzintla, Puebla. Caroyln Brown.
Iglesia de Santa María Tonantzintla, Puebla. Caroyln Brown.

The extravagance of the Baroque period in Spanish America is currently on display in an exhibition at the Benson Latin American Collection.

Inside the Baroque illuminates the splendor and diversity of Mexican arts and letters in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and their enduring legacy. A selection of photographs by Carolyn Brown accompanies rare books and manuscripts from the Benson’s collections to present the Baroque period’s ornate style as it was manifested in the Spanish colonies of the Americas.

A complementary documentary film by Quin Mathews presents arresting views of Mexico’s baroque churches against a backdrop of life in modern-day Mexico. Mathews traveled with photographer Carolyn Brown in 2008, recording scenes of daily devotional and festive practice, and the film captures the centrality of local churches.

Wedding at Catedral de Zacatecas. Carolyn Brown.
Wedding at Catedral de Zacatecas. Carolyn Brown.

Originating in 16th century Italy as a European Catholic response to the austerity of the Protestant Reformation, the Baroque style found purchase in the art, architecture and music of the period, and made its way to the Western Hemisphere by the end of the 1600s.

Catedral de Zacatecas at dusk. Carolyn Brown.
Catedral de Zacatecas at dusk. Carolyn Brown.

What made the movement particularly unique as it was expressed in the Americas was the influence of indigenous populations, craftsmanship and resources on the decorative style of religious structures that were erected as monuments to Spanish colonial power in the New World.

The exhibition will be on display through January 31, 2015, in the Benson Second Floor Exhibition Gallery, and is free and open to the public. Check the Benson website for a complete listing of hours.

Concurrently on view in the Benson’s first floor gallery is the 5th Annual LLILAS Benson Student Photography Exhibition featuring photography by University of Texas at Austin graduate and undergraduate students highlighting their expansive research, fieldwork, and volunteer activities within Latin American and U.S. Latina/o communities during the previous year.

 

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