Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Globalism is not a new phenomenon. It began more than 500 years ago, when ships carrying explorers (and later, goods) connected the world as never before. The Americas, situated between Asia and Europe, were literally at the center of the first, worldwide trading network. The arrival of Chinese porcelains and silks, Indian cottons, ivories from Goa and the Philippines, furniture and other luxury goods from Asia in the 16th century sparked a remarkable interchange of artistic styles and craft practices. Through that exchange of materials and goods, the Americas became the crossroads of a new global artistic culture.
Artists and patrons across North, Central and South America — both indigenous and recent arrivals from Europe and Africa — embraced this fad for Asian objects. They also responded by creating their own hybrid works, made in the Americas, but envisioning Asia.
Dr. Carr will explore the fine artistic objects made throughout the colonial Americas — from Quebec City to Boston, from Mexico City to Lima — in response to the profound influence of Asia. These spectacular, colonial objects, spanning the 16th through the early 19th centuries, include Mexican folding screens inspired by imported Japanese and Chinese screens; blue-and-white talavera ceramics made in imitation of Chinese porcelains; luxurious woven textiles that copied Chinese silks and Indian cottons; and devotional sculptures that transmogrified Buddhist deities into images of Christian saints. These remarkable luxury objects bring to life the rich cultural exchange and the spectacular arts of the first global age.