El Dorado: Myths of Gold

Bentley and Robert H. Schomburgk, Twelve Views in the Interior of the Guianas, 1840; Ernest Charton de Treville, Guayaquil, 1849; Johann Moritz Rugendas, View of Valparaíso, 1842. Design Estudio Herrera.

Bentley and Robert H. Schomburgk, Twelve Views in the Interior of the Guianas, 1840; Ernest Charton de Treville, Guayaquil, 1849; Johann Moritz Rugendas, View of Valparaíso, 1842. Design Estudio Herrera.

El Dorado: Myths of Gold

On view: through

Americas Society presents the first part of El Dorado: Myths of Gold, a two-part group exhibition exploring the legend of El Dorado as a foundational myth of the Americas. The exhibition presents artworks by more than sixty artists, from the pre-Hispanic period to the contemporary era, that challenge, reinforce, and question the continuity and effects of the myth in the Americas into the present. 

El Dorado is a tale of searches and quests, delirium, and violence. During the colonization of the Americas, rumors of an Indigenous kingdom replete with gold and precious stones quickly permeated the European imagination, galvanizing the invasion of the continent without regard for Indigenous lives, ancestral territories, or environmental concerns. Despite never being found, the mythical El Dorado functioned as a foundational ethos for the colonization of the Americas that persists until today. The city of gold has transformed into more intangible, though equally powerful, personal and collective values—such as individualism, greed, and consumerism—that are central to contemporary capitalist societies. 

As we grapple with the enormous long-term sociopolitical and environmental effects of this operating dynamic, there is a pressing need to reevaluate its influence on our identification as human beings and members of a globalized society. Presenting artworks from the precolonial period to today, this exhibition complicates and reevaluates the idea of El Dorado, employing the myth as a framework for understanding the Americas. By placing historical and contemporary artworks together, the exhibition facilitates dialogues between past and present to investigate how the myth has shaped the value of gold, as well as that of territories, peoples, religious beliefs, and nature. 

Part I of the exhibition will be on display from September 6 through December 16, 2023 and part II will take place from January 24 through May 18, 2024. 

The exhibition is accompanied by two publications: an exhibition catalog featuring a curatorial text along with the exhibition checklist, to be published in September 2023; and a reader on El Dorado featuring essays by more than fourteen scholars as well as primary sources. This new anthology will be published in early 2024. 

Artists in the show include: Olga de Amaral, Denilson Baniwa, Bruno Baptistelli, Andrés Bedoya, Charles Bentley, Juan Brenner, Fernando Bryce, Wendy Cabrera Rubio, Leda Catunda, Chiriquí artist, Coclé artists, william cordova, Juan Covelli, Covens & Mortier, Theodor De Bry, Dario Escobar, Scherezade Garcia, Anna Bella Geiger, Mathias Goeritz, Joaquín Gutiérrez, Thomas Hariot, John Harris, Pablo Helguera, Ana Mercedes Hoyos, Alfredo Jaar, Nancy La Rosa & Juan Salas Carreño, Lambayeque artist, Jaime Lauriano, Mariano León, Hew Locke, Karen Lofgren, Juan Pedro López, Liliana Maresca, Esperanza Mayobre, Sara Mejia Kriendler, Ana María Millán, Marta Minujín, Herman Moll, Priscilla Monge, Santiago Montoya, Carlos Motta, Eamon Ore-Giron, Rubén Ortiz Torres, Ebony G. Patterson, Rolando Peña, José Antonio Peñaloza, Armando Queiroz, Ronny Quevedo, Mazenett Quiroga, Quimbaya style artist, Freddy Rodríguez, Carlos Rojas, Miguel Ángel Rojas, Luis Romero, Harmonia Rosales, Johann Moritz Rugendas, Tiago Sant’Ana, Julia Santos Solomon, Vicente Telles, Pedro Terán, Ernest Charton de Treville, Moara Tupinambá, Veraguas artist, Laura Vinci, and Alberta Whittle 

Curated by Aimé Iglesias Lukin, Tie Jojima, and Edward J. Sullivan. 

The presentation of El Dorado and related programming has been made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Additional support was provided by Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

 Since 2020, Americas Society, Fundación PROA, and Museo Amparo have been joining efforts to conceptualize and bring to life the Project El Dorado, resulting in a convening, as well as a series of publications and exhibitions different for each institution (Proa 2023, Amparo 2024). 

For press inquiries, contact mediarelations@as-coa.org

For general inquiries, contact art@as-coa.org.

Works in the Exhbition
Preview Gold or Investing in Art II

Gold or Investing in Art II

Preview La Bachué en chocolate (Chocolate Bachué)

La Bachué en chocolate (Chocolate Bachué)

Preview Folhas avulsas # 1 e # 2 (Loose leaves #1 and #2)

Folhas avulsas # 1 e # 2 (Loose leaves #1 and #2)

Preview Morro mundo pin (Pin world hill)

Morro mundo pin (Pin world hill)

Preview La jaula de oro remastered (Golden cage remastered)

La jaula de oro remastered (Golden cage remastered)

Preview Sed (Thirst)

Sed (Thirst)

Preview Takuá


Preview Kuêra