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CIAMS Lecture Series: Claudia Brittenham

Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

GSH, G22

Lecture title: "Imagining a Future Past: Unseen art and Aztec archaism."

Many Aztec sculptures were carved on all available surfaces, including their undersides, such that some carvings would be concealed when the sculpture was set in place.   This practice raises questions about the meaning of Aztec image-making, the audiences for such concealed works, and how disciplines like art history should incorporate conditions of visibility into the study of ancient objects.  Most of the genres of Aztec art with carving on their undersides were archaizing, citing the sculptural traditions of cities like Teotihuacan and Tula, which had been abandoned centuries earlier.  In this talk, I consider the links between the Aztec experience of the past and the questions about the visibility of ancient sculpture.

Claudia Brittenham is Associate Professor of Art History and the College at the University of Chicago.  Her research focuses on the art of Mesoamerica, especially Central Mexico and the Maya area, with interests in the materiality of art and the politics of style. She is the author of The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central MexicoThe Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak (with Mary Miller); andVeiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color (with Stephen Houston and colleagues).

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Event Type



Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS)


Claudia Brittenham

Speaker Affiliation

University of Chicago

Dept. Web Site

If you need assistance accessing this public talk, please contact John Gorczyk (


A reception will follow the talk

Open To

Free and open to the public

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