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Aztec and Roman Empires Confronted at the Getty Villa
Cuauhxicalli Eagle. Photo: DMC INAH. H. MONTAÑO.

MALIBU, CA.- The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire, integrated by some of the most emblematic pieces of this Prehispanic culture was opened in The Getty Villa in Malibu, California, United States. The exhibition is sponsored by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and J. Paul Getty Museum and will be open from March 24th to July 5th, 2010.

Objects exhibited come from the collections of the National Museum of Anthropology, Templo Mayor Museum and J. Paul Getty Museum. Codices, sculptures, books, maps and other documents are displayed.

The official inauguration was attended by Juan Marcos Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles, David Bomford, Director of Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and Alfonso de Maria y Campos, General Director of INAH.

Among the 96 pieces lent by Mexico, stand out the diorite Coyolxauhqui head; an incense burner dedicated to Chicomecoatl; the Eagle Warrior and Mictlantecuhtli ceramic sculptures, as well as other pieces from Puebla Regional Museum and Mexiquense Culture Institute.

Objects and documents from the Getty Museum heap are also exhibited, but the most famous piece of the show is the Florentine Codex, which traveled to the Americas for the first time in more than 400 years for this exhibit.

The codex is a pictorial chronicle of Aztec culture and history conserved at Medici Library in Florence, Italy, where Bernardino de Sahagun compares the Aztec and Roman pantheons; based on it, the conceptual frame of the exhibition was elaborated. Mythological images of the J. Paul Getty Museum collection allow rapprochement to religion and art of Roman Empire.

Curated by Claire L. Lyons, antiquities curator at the Getty Museum and John D. Pohl, research associate at Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, the exhibition shows similarities between 16th century Mexico and Imperial Rome, suggesting that ancient cultures, especially Mexica, can be compared to imperial regimes.

“Although Graeco-Roman and Aztec cultures are distinct historical phenomena, and developed in isolation from one another, Europeans applied familiar frames of reference to a New World that was largely unfathomable,” explained Lyons.

As a complement of the show, the books The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire, by John M. D. Pohl and Claire L. Lyons; and A Pocket Dictionary of Aztec and Mayan Gods and Goddesses by Clara Bezanilla were published, and a two-day international conference will be convened at the Getty Villa from April 29-May 1, 2010.

In addition to the conference, a full schedule of public programs will be developed, including gallery tours, courses and curatorial lectures.

The Getty Villa | Aztec Empire | Alfonso de Maria y Campos | David Bomford | Juan Marcos Gutierrez | INAH |

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