The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central Mexico (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and L)

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9780292760899: The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central Mexico (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and L)

Honorable Mention, ALAA Book Award, Association for Latin American Art/Arvey Foundation, 2016

Between AD 650 and 950, artists at the small Central Mexican city-state of Cacaxtla covered the walls of their most important sacred and public spaces with dazzling murals of gods, historical figures, and supernatural creatures. Testimonies of a richly interconnected ancient world, the Cacaxtla paintings present an unexpectedly deep knowledge of the art and religion of the Maya, Zapotec, and other distant Mesoamerican peoples. Painted during a period of war and shifting alliances after the fall of Teotihuacan, the murals' distinctive fusion of cosmopolitan styles and subjects claimed a powerful identity for the beleaguered city-state.

Presenting the first cohesive, art historical study of the entire painting corpus, The Murals of Cacaxtla demonstrates that these magnificent works of art constitute a sustained and local painting tradition, treasured by generations of patrons and painters. Exhaustive chapters on each of the mural programs make it possible to see how the Cacaxtla painting tradition developed over time, responding to political and artistic challenges. Lavishly illustrated, The Murals of Cacaxtla illuminates the agency of ancient artists and the dynamics of artistic synthesis in a Mesoamerican context, offering a valuable counterpoint to studies of colonial and modern art operating at the intersection of cultural traditions.

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About the Author:

Claudia Lozoff Brittenham is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. She is the coauthor, with Mary Miller, of The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak and the coauthor, with Stephen Houston and colleagues, of Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color.


"An important addition to the scholarship on pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. The meticulously researched, elegantly written, and richly illustrated study offers a detailed description and astute analysis of the Epiclassic Period murals at Cacaxtla, discovered accidentally by local workers in 1975." (CHOICE)

"This book will make a major and lasting contribution to the study of Mesoamerican art. . . . I am confident it will be consulted and referred to widely and will be regarded as a methodological benchmark. Although it focuses on a particular set of questions and accompanying answers that reveal the complex links between the [Cacaxtla] paintings, their patrons, artists, and meanings and a wide range of other Mesoamerican sites, imagery, styles, and cultural themes, the breadth of knowledge and intellectual inquisitiveness and sophistication it displays support rating it favorably with, and perhaps higher than, some other key monographs in the field." (Jeff Karl Kowalski, Professor of Art History and Distinguished Research Professor, Northern Illinois University)

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