Books Reviews

New Mexico Art Through Time Pre-History to the Present Book Review

By Angela Youngman Sep 17, 2012, 22:01 GMT

New Mexico Art Through Time Pre-History to the Present  Book Review

This book considers 250 works of art from across a vast timeline of 14,000 years, expanding the definition of what constitutes art to include aestheticised cultural objects extending back to the earliest worked points of the Paleo-Indian Clovis people. The transition from these early works to modern and contemporary art reflects changing economic, ethnic, ideological, religious, and cultural perspectives, while considering the diversity, aesthetic complexity, and cultural breadth that developed ...more

Outside Mexico, not many people know much about Mexican art.  Yetas this book shows, it has much to offer.  The book spans a period of 14,000 years and profiles around 250 works of art.  It shows just how the native styles and patterns have never completely been dropped, influencing other artistic styles from the wider world. The zig zag and isometric designs of the pueblos can still be found today, along with the characteristic terra cottas, black and white color schemes. 

The Spanish influence brought in Christian religious styles - yet it is clearly obvious that these were amended to suit local artists and styles.  There are some very unusual art too such as the gorgeous Colcha embroidery.  European artists such as the Transcendental Painting Group were influenced by Mexican art, and sought to bring elements into their own work.  Some of their oil paintings challenged racist attitudes towards Native People by being able to combine two different viewpoints. 

The trend continues today, with modern artists taking up photography, mixed media, collage and adding a special Mexican touch. I loved the illustration of the deluxe Samba pulling Bambi - a campervan and caravan decorated all kinds of found objects such as beads, silver leaf and rhinestones.  It looks really spectacular. 
An unusual book, which offers an insight into Mexican art.  The price is definitely a drawback.  It does feel overpriced for that price I would have expected more illustrations than are used. The accompanying text at times is too academic.

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