ARTnTreasures FromnSpainnby Caroline MorgannIn an extraordinary gesture of internationalngoodwill, the Spanish Ministrynof Culture this past fall selected thenrarest books and manuscripts fromnSpanish libraries for an exhibition atnthe New York Public Library. Items onndisplay ranged from a 13th-centurynmanuscript on the game of chess tonexuberant prints by Joan Miro. Librariesnfrom all parts of Spain contributednmaterial, with the majority of piecesncoming from the National Library, thenRoyal Palace, and the Escorial Monasterynjust outside Madrid.n”Treasures From Spain; Ten Centuriesnof Spanish Books,” with 200nworks on display, created a livingnawareness of the various cultures thatndetermined the destiny of Spain. Thenexhibit exemplified Jorge Luis Borges’ndescription—cited in the exhibitionncatalog—of books as “the best memorynof our species.”nFor the 10 centuries spanned by thenshow, Spain has developed as a culturalnmelting pot, much like America.nNothing but the Catholic Churchnunited the diverse cultures of the Iberiannpeninsula, and that unification didnnot occur until the end of the 15thncentury. Even the religious impulsenhas expressed itself in diverse ways, asnmay be seen by comparing the earlynmanuscripts that surround the liturgicalntext with fiendish Flemish devilsnwith other manuscripts illustrated withnthe soft, sweet colors of Italianate birdsnand flowers or with the classical architecturalncontours borrowed fromnFrench artists.nWhile Flemish, French, and Italianninfluences dominated Spanish art andnliterature during the Renaissance,nmedieval Spain conceded superioritynin scientific and scholarly matters tonthe Muslims and Jews, especially innVITAL SIGNSnxiv.ffl^,^’nthe great school of translators in Toledo.nThe intricate Mudejar ornamentationnof manuscripts in the exhibitionnreflected the legacy of that culture inndecorative arts throughout the southernnprovinces.n”Treasures From Spain” includednthe spectacular 13th-century illuminatednmanuscript entifled Cantigas denSanta Maria, a collection of Calician-nPortuguese lyrical poetry representingnthe most important poetic genre ofnPortrait oflppolita Maria, placednwithin the initial letter “A” whichnbegins the codex of Virgil’s Aeneid.nFifteenth-century Italian. Photo courtesynThe New York Public Library.nmedieval Spain. The Cantigas manuscriptnis most famous for its miniaturenpaintings. Besides providing preciousninformation on costume and architecturenof the period, these masterpiecesnreveal an era in Spanish culture whennArabic, Jewish, and Christian individualsnlived and indeed flourishedntogether.n”Treasures From Spain” transcendednthe limitations of any one culturalninfluence to express the visionary potentialnof what the Spanish Minister ofnCulture has termed the “long searchnnnfor certainty” in the human spirit.nAfter centuries of pursuing that searchnunder monarchy, Spaniards may nowncontinue it with the new freedom ofndemocracy.nIronically, no such collection ofnSpanish books and manuscripts hasnever been shown in Spain. Popularnresponse to the exhibition in New Yorknhas persuaded the Spanish governmentnto reassemble the show in Madrid.nSpaniards themselves might thennexplore the value of these treasures andnrestore them to their own collectivenmemory. ccnCaroline Morgan is a drama and artncritic in New York City.nKarl Bodmer’snAmericanby Shehbaz H. SafraninTo see America through the paintingsnof Karl Bodmer (1809-93) is a rarenexperience. Last summer and fall,nthousands of Americans shared in thisnexperience by visiting an exhibition ofnBodmer’s works at the MetropolitannMuseum of Art in New York City.nThe exhibition, commemorating then150th anniversary of the 1832-34nNorth American expedition of Bodmernand the German naturalist PrincenMaximilian (1782-1867), featured 109nof Bodmer’s watercolors and prints.nOne volume of Maximilian’s diary onndisplay focused on the pair’s historicnexpedition across the Ohio frontiernand up the Missouri River into thenIndian wilderness of the LouisiananPurchase.nThis entire exhibition comes fromnan infinitely larger and historically significantnMaximilian-Bodmer Collectionnconsisting of 427 watercolors andnsketches, as well as original diaries,njournals, aquatints, and correspondencenfrom the journey of 1832-34.nProminent historians have called thenMAY 1986/41n