The Blanton Museum of Art has received a $2 million donation from the Thoma Foundation to endow a curatorial position devoted to art of the Spanish Americas.
The curatorship — the Marilynn Thoma Associate Curator, Art of the Spanish Americas — is only the second such endowed curatorial position for Spanish American art in the United States. The position is currently held Rosario I. Granados, a recognized expert in the field who joined the Blanton staff in 2016.
Carl and Marilynn Thoma and their Chicago-based foundation have been involved with the Blanton for more than a decade and are members of the Blanton National Leadership Board.
In 2008, the Blanton presented the exhibition “The Virgin, Saints, and Angels: South American Paintings 1600-1825 from the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Collection.” Then in 2016, the foundation made a long-term loan of works from its esteemed collection and gave the Blanton a three-year grant to support scholarly research in art of the Spanish Americas.
“The Blanton has demonstrated meaningful and sustained commitment to the study of the history of art of Latin America,” said Marilynn Thoma in a statemen. “Carl and I are proud to grow our relationship with the museum by endowing this position. Rosario is a devoted scholar, and we look forward to following her continued contributions to the field.”
Since joining the Blanton, Granados has organized several exhibitions including the upcoming Mapping Memory: Space and History in 16th-century Mexico, featuring maps from the 16th century drawn from the Benson Collection. “Mapping Memory” will be on view at the Blanton June 29 to August 25. Also forthcoming is “Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America” which examines the social role of textiles and their visual representations in different media produced in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela during the 1600s and 1700s.
“The artistic production of the Spanish Americas is both culturally complex and extraordinarily beautiful; it demonstrates the melding of visual cultures during a time of change and flux,” said Granados in a statement.
The Blanton was one of the first museums in North America to collect modern and contemporary Latin American art when it began to do so in 1963. And in 1988, the Blanton became the first museum in the United States to establish a curatorial position devoted to modern and contemporary Latin American art.
In recent years, Blanton expanded its Latin American holdings and attentions. In addition the Thoma Foundation’s long-term loan, the museum received a gift of 83 works from colonial-era Venezuela from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in 2017 and earlier this year announced purchase of the Huber Collection of 119 works from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial era in the Americas.