These are heady days at the Seattle Art Museum. In the midst of expanding its downtown headquarters and constructing a new sculpture park, the museum has just mounted its most ambitious show to date. Spain in the Age of Exploration brings together an impressive array of art and artifacts, mostly from the Spanish Royal Collection. The exhibition includes masterpiece paintings by some of the most notable names in art history, as well as armor, maps, tapestries, manuscripts, and scientific instruments. Several of the pieces have never before left Spain. KUOW art critic, Gary Faigin, has toured the show, and here is his review.
Many of the shows that travel the museum circuit are simply “Best Of” shows, like the Van Gogh to Mondrian exhibit that just closed at the Seattle Art Museum. Though such shows give museum-goers a chance to view examples of excellent works by significant artists, they usually do not attempt to impart any particular message, and connections between the assembled works are not given as much importance as the works themselves. Not incidentally, such exhibits are often quite successful at the box office, particularly when they highlight popular artists like the Impressionists, or Vincent Van Gogh.