Columbus’s journey was not an art event; its causes and characteristics belong to parts of experience that we classify elsewhere. To put it in academic terms, the Art History Department does not mention it in its explications of the art of its time—not, at any rate, in relation to European art or to that of most of the world. Its one best connection of that kind is with the origins of the Latin American art of the following colonial centuries. It is the History Department that must chiefly cope with Columbus, and in many of its subspecialties, ranging from the economic to the demographic, the technological, the political, and the military. For art history, the key event of 1492 is the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

If one decided to take note of Columbus’s journey, as a journey, by means of a display of objects, the result would have the tone of a local...

Introduce yourself to The New Criterion for the lowest price ever—and a receive an extra issue as thanks.
Popular Right Now