Review Round Up: Spain and the Hispanic World, Royal Academy of Arts

We take a look at what critics have had to say about this exhibition which celebrates the collection of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York, while highlighting the history of Spanish culture.

The Duchess of Alba 1797, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY

The Guardian: *** “Grim and gorgeous, extensive and rushed, overwhelming in its scope and oddly truncated, the exhibition has great things in it – Sevillian painter Juan de Valdés Leal’s 1661 Christ Carrying the Cross, shuffling along, back bent under the weight of the cross with its telegraph-pole timbers; Luis de Morales’ grim 1565-70 Ecce Homo and a miniature portrait by El Greco, painted on an oval bit of cardboard that one might overlook among the lustreware and glazed pottery by Muslim craftsmen, the plate depicting Jonah fishing in his little boat, the vast creature more a winged serpent than whale.”

Time Out: ** “Every era here could – and should – have been a show of its own. By reaching so far, trying to say so much and having such a broad scope, the show ends up telling you very little. I don’t doubt it works brilliantly as a museum, but it’s a failure as an exhibition, Sure, viva España, but this show might just bore you to muerte.”

The FT: “Huntington said he loved “Vision of Spain” because it memorialised a world “on the verge of disappearing”. His collection reveals as much about 20th-century nostalgia as about how a nation’s history is told through its art: a dazzling double cultural portrait.”

iNews: *** “Spain and the Hispanic World is less an exhibition than it is a digested museum tour – one that speaks perhaps as much of the obsessions of its collector as it does of the territories it celebrates.”

Evening Standard: **** “if you can’t get to Spain, this exhibition conjures up the soul of the Hispanic world. Go see it while you can.”

Culture Whisper: **** “This show was never going to be a comprehensive history of Spain and the countries it was colonised, as that’s a story that one exhibition could never tell, and what’s on show at the Royal Academy is limited to what can be sourced from the collection of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library. But what this exhibition manages to deliver is to use this collection to tell a more diverse history, and it’s a history that needs telling.”

The Telegraph: *** “This show of artefacts from the Hispanic Society of America has much to enjoy but fails to analyse what makes Spanish art ‘Spanish’.”

The Independent: **** “In this show at the Royal Academy, the most exciting objects are ones that contest, indeed threaten, to explode the notions of Spanish or even ‘Hispanic’ culture altogether.”

The Upcoming; **** “There is a lot to see here. There is a wildness to the sheer scope of the timescale and the range of objects, as can be the way with personal collections – but that only adds to the interest. The richness of the first half means that the move into the modern era feels a little anticlimactic, the last room not being a memorable end. But the sheer complexity and drama of the history makes this worthwhile: an idiosyncratic deep dive into one of the most glamorous and mysterious of European countries.”

The exhibition is on display until the 10th April.

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