FLAMENCO: From Spain to New Mexico

Staff - October 18, 2015

Passionate, fiery, sensual, intense...

The Museum of International Folk Art will present Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico, the most comprehensive exhibition to celebrate and study this living tradition as an art form. The exhibition opens November 22, 2015 and runs through September 11, 2016.

More than 150 objects will be featured. Among them, items once used by renowned artists Encarnación López y Júlvez "La Argentinita", José Greco, and Vicente Romero and María Benítez (both from New Mexico). In addition to other stunning loans from private collectors will be those from the museum's expansive permanent collection.


Pablo Rodarte, Costume sketch, mid-1990s. Courtesy of Lili del Castillo and Luís Campos.

Tracing flamenco's journey from fifteenth and sixteenth century Spain to twentieth century Europe's most cultured cities will be costumes both historic and contemporary, musical instruments, costume and set design sketches, playbills, sheet music, posters, and more. These objects chronicle flamenco's evolution from rural, folkloric tradition to elaborate staged productions incorporating extravagantly costumed dancers accompanied by virtuoso guitarists. The objects also trace flamenco's transition to recording studios and the silver screen permitting it to gain a massive popular audience.

Handed down from generation to generation, between family and community members living at society's edges, flamenco incorporates historic dance and music traditions from Roman times to the Arabic period. Flamenco expresses a way of life shaped by a multitude of cultural and regional influences such as the Gitanos (Romany people) of Spain and Andalusian regional customs. In 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

This exhibition also examines Spain's ferias and fiestas, their introduction to the southwestern US, and the individuals who contributed to making flamenco a popular art form in this country. And as the exhibition title suggests, flamenco's integration into New Mexico's culture will be examined.

Exhibition curator Nicolasa Chávez said, "Flamenco is often considered an outward expression of one's innermost emotions, whether happy or sad, and carries with it an air of freedom or abandon." She noted that other exhibitions have only featured flamenco through photography and imagery while this exhibition explores flamenco as a multifaceted art form, a highly cherished performance art remaining true to its cultural roots and heritage. The exhibition is also the first ever to show the history and development of flamenco and its treasured role within the cultural milieu of New Mexico.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the book, The Spirit of Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico, by Nicolasa Chávez (Museum of New Mexico Press, Jacketed hardbound $39.95 ISBN: 978-0-89013-608-9, 192 pages, 86 colorand 54 black-and-white photographs).

Exhibition Opening Event

The exhibition opening on Sunday, November 22, 2015 is from 1 to 4pm with live guitar from 1 to 2pm, dance performances by renowned artists from both Spain and New Mexico from 2 to 4pm, a book signing by the curator from 1.30 to 2.30pm, and light refreshments served by the Women's Board of the Museum of New Mexico. The opening is free with museum admission, New Mexico residents with ID are always free on Sunday.


Daniel Carnela, Peine (hair comb), La Algaba, Sevilla, Spain, 2008. IFAF Collection, Museum of International Folk Art (FA.2008.37.1). Photo by Blair Clark.