Ancient West Mexico: Art of the Unknown Past
by S. Kirchberg
Published in conjunction with an exhibit by the same name, Ancient West Mexico: Art of an Unknown Past takes readers on a fascinating archaeological journey through a land that has been largely ignored. From the exciting discovery of complex architectural ruins to investigations on the regions different artistic styles, this 300-plus page book, put out by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998, sheds new light on the complex cultures who resided in what are now the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Colima.
The publication opens with Phil Weigand and Christopher Beekmans accounts of the developed building and irrigation systems, first discovered just over 30 years ago by Weigand and his wife Acelia, in this part of the country. Western Mexico pottery, ceremonies, burial practices, lifestyles and beliefs are also assessed. Figurines of warriors, ball-players, dancing dogs, flying men, and women carrying children fill the publications pages, bringing to reality this cultures extraordinary past.
Readers whose curiosity leans towards contemporary art will be especially delighted with Barbara Brauns provocative study of the influences this ancient art has had on artists from the 1930s through 50s, ranging from Miguel Covarrubias and Henry Moore to the Walt Disney Studios. She argues that the clean, compact lines of prehispanic works from western Mexico, and the sense of humor reflected in many of these pieces, may have been an important fountain of inspiration for numerous twentieth-century masters.
Ancient West Mexico: Art of an Unknown Past, was edited by Richard Townsend, Director and President of the Art Institute of Chicago. A second edition was released in 2000, in Spanish, in conjunction with Carlos Eduardo Guiterrez Arce and the Secretaria de Cultura de Jalisco. Both publications are the tremendous work of dedicated scholars, archaeologists and anthropologists from Mexico, the United States and beyond. Ancient West Mexico does much to unravel the many questions about a people who were nearly forgotten by time. O