Enchanted: Visual Histories of the Central Andes presents a window into a captivating, multifaceted world with the Menil’s first display of archaeological material and post-16th century examples of visual culture from the Peruvian Andes.
The exhibition explores the imagery of pre-Hispanic textiles and ceramic vessels, colonial-era ceremonial works and religious painting, and elaborate 20th-century festival dress in the museum’s permanent collection and on loan from the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It also highlights a group of recently conserved photographs by Pierre Verger (1902–1996), who gifted John and Dominique de Menil two portfolios of nearly two-hundred original gelatin silver prints from his trips through the Central Andes. After meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1941, the de Menils supported Verger’s ambition to photograph the fusion of indigenous traditions and Catholicism represented by the different religious festivals and pilgrimages in the Andes. Their support culminated in Verger’s first major publication Fiestas y Danzas en el Cusco y en los Andes (1945). On view for the first time at the Menil, Verger’s photographs picture the drama and dynamism of these seasonal events: packed celebratory crowds, evocative moments of regional dances, and portraits of festival characters wearing knitted masks, hats, and embroidered capes similar to those presented in the exhibition.