Behind the Altar
Retablo/Lamina Collection of Paul LeBaron Thiebaud
May 12 - June 24, 2012 / Curated by Colleen Casey & Phil Hitchcock
Retablos, (called laminas in Mexico) are small oil paintings on a wide range of materials that depict images of Catholic saints and are used on home altars. It is a genre of folk art introduced to converted Indians by the Spanish in post conquest Mexico. Also in the collection are devotional statues called Santos or bultos which were displayed on home alters or in the church.
Paul LeBaron Thiebaud, renowned art dealer and son of artist Wayne Thiebaud, began this collection when he was still a teenager. He saw them as a naïve but authentic folk art. He writes, “I've collected these pieces based purely on my belief of their aesthetic merits… Their religious prowess, although unmistakable, is notable for its conviction not its dependence.”
This genre of folk art, deeply rooted in Spanish history, represents the heart and soul of t raditional reigious beliefs in 17th, 18th and 19th Century Mexican culture. Colorful, spiritual, symbolic, allegorical, historical, folkloric and charming are just a few of the words that best describe this unique art form.
These rare art forms are a hybrid of indigenous artistry, centuries old catholic iconography and Spanish culture, reflecting the historical, cultural and religious links between “old” and “new” worlds.
James Eddy , Colonial Arts San Francisco