PCSNY February Lecture

From the Heart of the Andes:
On the Making of Golden Kingdoms

Joanne Pillsbury
Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Octopus Frontlet. Gold, chrysocolla, shell. Moche, A.D. 300–600. Peru, La Mina.
Museo de la Nación, Lima, Ministerio de Cultura del Perú (MN-14602)

This talk provides a behind-the-scenes view of the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas (opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 28th, 2018), and the international research project that inspired it. Drawing upon significant recent archaeological findings and new investigations into the roles of artists, their patrons, and their workshops, the exhibition focuses on luxury arts in the lands between the two great imperial capitals of the ancient Americas: Cusco, the seat of the Inca state, and Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the final selection of works includes over three hundred objects gathered from fifty-seven museums in thirteen nations, including many that have been excavated in recent years, and others that have rarely, if ever, left their countries of origin.

The exhibition follows a specific historical and geographical path, tracing the development of gold-working in the Americas from around 1000 BC in the Andes of South America, to its expansion northward into Central America, and finally to Mexico, where gold-working only comes into its full flower after 1000 AD. Although the spread northward of gold working provides the exhibition with its trajectory and narrative, this golden road passed through regions where gold was of little interest to the indigenous populations. Such variations bring to the fore the most challenging and broad-ranging research question driving this project: How can we discern and interpret indigenous ideas of value? Golden Kingdoms seeks to understand which materials were considered most precious to the Moche, the Incas, the Maya, the Aztecs, and other ancient American cultures, and how and why certain materials were selected and transformed into some of the ancient world’s most spectacular works of art.

Thursday, February 15, 2018
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
RSVP Institute of Fine Arts

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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