The Denver Art Museum (DAM) is pleased to announce Jorge Rivas Pérez as the new Frederick & Jan Mayer Curator of Spanish Colonial Art. The announcement comes today as the museum celebrates the longstanding dedication and generous contributions of the Mayers at its annual Collectors’ Choice fundraising event. Beginning in February 2016, Rivas will oversee the DAM’s world-renowned Spanish Colonial art collection, and continue the museum’s commitment to acquiring works with a broad, Pan-American focus. He joins the New World department alongside Margaret Young-Sánchez, the museum’s Frederick & Jan Mayer Curator of Pre-Columbian Art.
As a Venezuelan native, Rivas cultivated extensive experience during his 14 years as the curator of Spanish Colonial art at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC). Based in New York City and Caracas, Venezuela, the collection ranges from Spanish Colonial to contemporary art. While at CPPC, Rivas organized numerous exhibitions including a presentation of small-format colonial paintings that toured four cities in Venezuela from 2002 to 2006 titled Devoción Privada (Private Devotion). He also contributed to publications, conducted provenance research and facilitated loans and acquisitions, including the long-term loan of 25 colonial objects from the collection to the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art (LACMA).
“Jorge is a respected scholar in the field of Spanish Colonial art, and we are delighted to bring his expertise to our museum,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director at the DAM. “His fluency in this historic material made him a very attractive candidate for our community, while his expertise in more contemporary work of Central and South American art creates additional opportunities for this department.”
Most recently, Rivas has worked as an independent curator in New York City and as the associate curator of Latin American Art at LACMA. In 2015, he was the guest curator of The Americas Society’s exhibition Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940–1978, which aimed to reposition modern Latin American design within a larger global context. Since 2006, Rivas has also been a consultant and contributor to international art exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Brooklyn Museum, among others. In addition to curating, Rivas has lectured extensively in both English and Spanish on Latin American art and material culture throughout the Americas, including three times at the DAM.
“Denver is vibrant multicultural city, home to a growing Latino community, and nationally recognized as a cultural center for its many museums, chief among them the Denver Art Museum,” said Rivas. “The DAM’s Spanish Colonial collection is one of the most remarkable in the world. We have an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Latin American artistic legacies within today’s global art scene. Thanks to the generosity of Frederick and Jan Mayer, the Denver Art Museum is exceptionally positioned to open new avenues of cross-cultural and cross-temporal dialogues through exhibitions, education programs, scholarly research and publications.”
Rivas’ expertise includes Latin American art, modern and contemporary art as well as architecture and design. He has a master’s degree in industrial design from the University of Florence in Italy and a professional degree in architecture from the Central University in Caracas, Venezuela. Rivas also earned a master’s of philosophy in art history from The Bard Graduate Center in New York City and is currently pursuing his Ph.D.
About the Denver Art Museum’s Spanish Colonial collection
The New World department of pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art at the Denver Art Museum was established in 1968, bringing together pre-Columbian (before 1492) and Spanish Colonial objects from Latin America. Today the department’s combined collections are some of the finest of their type in the United States and cover a time span from about 1200 B.C. to the present. In many areas, its holdings are the most comprehensive outside the countries of origin. At no other museum in the Americas can visitors appreciate and compare stylistic movements from all the major artistic centers of Latin America.
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The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org.