Photo Diary: Contested Visions at LACMA.


A clay sculpture of an Aztec warrior dating back to the 15th century — the first time this particular piece has been seen in the U.S.


Bring out yer dead: A detail from a painted screen depicts European notions about America, confused-looking unicorns and all. (The full screen is featured after the jump, below.)


A funerary cape crafted from the feathers of Amazonian birds, from 12-13th century Peru. Obtaining feathers, shells and materials from the furthest reaches of their empires was one of the ways that the Incas and Aztecs showed their power.

Because of various deadlines and lots of travel, we’re a little late getting up this photo essay of from LACMA’s exhibit Contested Visions, which explored the ways in which Spanish and indigenous cultures both faced off and fused in the period of colonial rule (from the 15th to the early 19th century). The show, unfortunately, has already come down, but thankfully we have this photo essay from a tour I attended with the show’s curator, Ilona Katzew. If you’re in Mexico City, expect this to land at the Museo de Historia at the Castillo de Chapultepec in July.


A Mexican folding screen from the late 17th century serves as an allegory for the four continents. The piece depicting America is the one with the men chopping up human bits in the background. (A podcast on Modern Art Notes explores the artistic influences of this screen. Tune in at around Minute 39.)


A cape for dressing a Saint, made out of pre-Columbian textiles.


A 16th century portrait of a saint is crafted from iridescent hummingbird feathers. This piece is from Mexico.


Detail from a Jan Mostaert landscape from the early 16th century shows an (imagined) episode of the conquest of America. Some of the nekkid male figures wear hats traditional to European Jews.


A 17th century folding screen shows the conquest of Mexico.


A detail from the screen shows Moctezuma being killed by his own men — a way for the Spanish to rewrite history, showing themselves as the good guys.


The rear of the screen shows a map of Mexico City, a still-relevant map of the city.


A detail of a Mexican folding screen from the late 17th century depicts an Indian wedding celebration with a flying pole. Even after colonial rule took hold, some indigenous traditions continued.


An 18th century painting from Mexico depicts the Virgen de Guadalupe flanked by Juan Diego and a “heathen” (as in: not Christianized) Indian.


A native Mexican codex showing the effects of the smallpox epidemic brought by the Europeans. Note the dead bodies hanging off the Aztec numbering system, which records the dates they died.


In the 18th century, some residents of the vice royalty of Peru made a point of linking their ancestry to Inca kings as a way of proving their inheritance of lands.


A detail from the above work shows Capa Inca Yupanqui. There were no portraits of the Inca kings made during their lives so these are all manufactured images.

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