Many people, when they think of museums, think of art, a selection of which can be found at the museum in Guadalajara. One long, narrow room contains religious art dating from the 11th through 18th centuries. In this gallery Jesus is depicted on a cross...repeatedly. One piece attempts to tell the story of the founding of the Carmelite order of nuns. Jesus is in the center, seen suffering through the agony of his crucifixion while in one corner is a group of sisters, all habits and rosaries. Cherubs, their naughty parts creatively draped, fly through the air. On the whole it resembled some overproduced, slightly gory, Broadway musical number gone terribly awry.
It was interesting to see the evolution of both materials and techniques between the older pieces and the more "modern" ones. The 11th century works were crude, their imagery flat and lacking in the concept of perspective, while the 18th century have more dimension. The colors are stronger, perhaps due to improvements in the quality of pigments available. Light reflects off of the draped fabrics and faces in the paintings. Art education is also most likely a factor. 11th century artists worked on almost pure inspiration and devotion to their subject while later artists were able to receive more formal training.
I wandered a bit more and came upon a true treat tucked away in a corner. It was a special exhibition of portraits of famed artist Frida Kohelo done by Mexican artists. The paintings filled two rooms. Each work evoked the reverence and respect the artists obviously felt towards her. Done in an array of styles, they each portrayed her and her odd beauty in their own special way. In one she is embraced by a Day of the Dead skeleton, another shows her surrounded by a group of cats. One envisions her on the cover of Vogue. In another she is imagined as a Hollywood screen siren. She wears a bright crown of flowers, rainbow smoke issues from a cigarette she is holding, a hummingbird hovers by her shoulder, I have no idea why.
I had two favorites, although it was difficult to chose among the works. There was an obviously Picasso inspired piece of classic cubism. The image is fragmented, the colors vivid and arbitrary. The other, by contrast, was quiet and subdued. It was a rather large, straight forward. sepia toned portrait. Not only visually lovely it also evoked an emotional response, one characteristic that defines great art. It radiated self confidence and serenity.
I returned to the venerable maze of courtyards and staircases. The dome and spires of the cathedral could be seen above the roof line as the bells pealed calling the faithful to mass.