Tag Archives: Mesoamerican art

ARTES event: Picturing a New World – Cortés – Moctezuma, 1519–2019: A Special Study Afternoon and Conversation

A guest post by Anna Espinola Lynn and Clare Hills-Nova

On 23 October, 2019, ARTES, together with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, hosted a transdisciplinary session at the University’s Weston Library, focusing on Mesoamerican manuscripts. The event was designed to mark the 500th anniversary of the historic meeting between the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) and the Aztec ruler Moctezuma the Younger (1466–1520), just outside Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), on 8 November 1519. Attendees included students, academics and representatives of other cultural institutions.

Attendance at this exclusive event was by invitation only. Would you like to take part in similar visits in the future? Join ARTES today!

MS. Arch. Selden. A. 72 (3). Image courtesy the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

The afternoon began in the Weston Library’s Visiting Scholars’ Centre. On view were the Selden Roll (MS. Arch. Selden. A. 72 (3)) alongside two modern books produced by Alfonso García Tellez, using the traditional, amate paper-based techniques evidenced by rare Pre-Hispanic codices and rolls.

The session began with Sir John Elliott’s essay on the Cortez-Moctezuma encounter before moving on to presentations by Giuseppe Marcocci (University of Oxford), Emily Floyd (UCL), and the Bodleian Libraries’ Head of Conservation, Virginia Lladó-Buisán. 

Giuseppe followed Sir John’s paper with a consideration of the roles vision and visual culture took on in the encounter between the Spanish visitors and the Mexica. Turning to contemporary accounts of the encounter that emphasize vision, as well as representations of the imagined or real Other, Giuseppe pointed to visual asymmetries active in colonial contexts as they participated in relations of power. 

Emily, meanwhile, provided a reading of the pre-colonial Selden Roll as it expressed the formation of a new cycle of rule in central Mexico. She discussed the multiplicity of ways the Roll can be read, and invited further conversation as to possible representations of time, succession, generation and regeneration. Regarding the name of the Selden Roll, Emily noted that this was associated  with its colonial history of collecting more than with the Roll’s actual content, commenting that ‘The Roll of New Fire’ had recently been adopted as a more appropriate title for it. 

Virginia followed up with insights into the processes and materials used in creating the Roll, drawing upon the results of recent research. Participants in this session had the unique pleasure of getting up close to the Selden Roll and asking those experts present questions about anything from shifts in hue or line quality, to contexts of production in pre-colonial and colonial environments, and on the multivalent symbolisms in the Roll. 

Following a compelling period of conversation around and about the objects, the afternoon concluded with a visit to the Weston Library’s Talking Maps exhibition, where the Codex Mendoza (Bodleian Library MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1) was on display. Here, they were able to extend the conversation regarding the authorship, readership and linguistic referents of the pre-colonial Roll of New Fire versus the colonial era’s Mendoza Codex. 

Images courtesy the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Opens Today: Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, until 12 May 2019

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Nickolas Muray (American, born Hungary, 1892–1965). Frida in New York, 1946; printed 2006. Carbon pigment print, image: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2010.80. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s unique and immediately recognizable style was an integral part of her identity. Kahlo came to define herself through her ethnicity, disability, and politics, all of which were at the heart of her work. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is the largest U.S. exhibition in ten years devoted to the iconic painter and the first in the United States to display a collection of her clothing and other personal possessions, which were rediscovered and inventoried in 2004 after being locked away since Kahlo’s death, in 1954. They are displayed alongside important paintings, drawings, and photographs from the celebrated Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art, as well as related historical film and ephemera. To highlight the collecting interests of Kahlo and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, works from the museum’s extensive holdings of Mesoamerican art are also included.

 

Kahlo’s personal artifacts—which range from noteworthy examples of Kahlo’s Tehuana clothing, contemporary and pre-Colonial jewelry, and some of the many hand-painted corsets and prosthetics used by the artist during her lifetime—had been stored in the Casa Azul (Blue House), the longtime Mexico City home of Kahlo and Rivera, who had stipulated that their possessions not be disclosed until 15 years after Rivera’s death. The objects shed new light on how Kahlo crafted her appearance and shaped her personal and public identity to reflect her cultural heritage and political beliefs, while also addressing and incorporating her physical disabilities.

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is based on an exhibition at the V&A London curated by Claire Wilcox and Circe Henestrosa, with Gannit Ankori as curatorial advisor. Their continued participation has been essential to presenting the Brooklyn exhibition, which is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Lisa Small, Senior Curator, European Art, Brooklyn Museum, in collaboration with the Banco de México Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, and The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Vergel Foundation.

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