A Look at Teotihuacan for International Archaeology Day

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten. Today the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.

Photograph of Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan for International Archaeology Day
View of the Sun Pyramid looking east. At 63 meters tall, the Sun Pyramid was one of the largest and tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere until the development of the skyscraper in the nineteenth century. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Detail of pyramid sculptures at Teotihuacan
Facade of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, assembled as a mosaic of large and small sculptures. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

The recently opened exhibition at the de Young Museum is historic in many ways. The result of long-term international collaboration, including a 30 year partnership with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), the spectacular exhibition features more than 200 artifacts and artworks from the site displayed in dramatic and awe-inspiring ways. It is a rare opportunity to contemplate objects drawn from major collections in Mexico, some very recently excavated, and many on view in the U.S. for the first time.

Exhibition detail from de Young Museum
Installation of “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” at the de Young Museum. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Excavation photography from Teotihuacan
Two standing anthropomorphic sculptures discovered near the terminus of the tunnel beneath the Ciudadela and the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. Photograph by Sergio Gómez Chávez. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

Today is International Archaeology Day, so curator Matthew Robb’s comments on the exhibition are especially timely.

“The ideas behind Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire were really inspired by the work of my archaeologist colleagues. They selected many of the objects for the catalogue from their own projects, and we worked together to shape those selections into a coherent image of this ancient city. We had a real opportunity to showcase their work to a broader audience, as well as provide the field with an important update to what we know about Teotihuacan. Archaeology is painstaking, intensely collaborative work—it requires so much patience and discipline. The end result is that tantalizing glimpse into the past, into how people once lived and thought—a glimpse made more complete by the meticulous gathering of data and objects archaeologists carry out every day.”  —Matthew Robb, curator

In the exhibition, monumental and ritual objects from Teotihuacan’s three largest pyramids—the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and the Sun Pyramid—are shown alongside mural paintings, ceramics, and stone sculptures from the city’s apartment compounds. By bringing these pieces together, and contextualizing specific sites within the city, this is an unprecedented opportunity to experience a significant place in Mexico’s cultural landscape.

Map drawing of Teotihuacan site
Site map of Teotihuacan. Composed by Hilary Olcott, Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Detail of exhibits at de Young Museum
Installation of “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” at the de Young Museum. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

Edited by Matthew Robb and co-published with the de Young Museum, the beautifully illustrated catalogue is equally impressive in its scope and ability to unearth the secrets within and beneath the city that are only now coming to light.

Cover image of exhibition catalogue

For an all-access preview of the exhibition check out the Teotihuacan digital story. We expect that it will inspire not only a visit to the exhibition, but also a trip to Mexico to see the captivating and mysterious ancient city en vivo.

Note that the exhibition will also travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Spring 2018.

In honor of International Archaeology Day, save 30% on the exhibition catalogue with code 16M4197.

 


#MuseumWeek Spotlight: Upcoming Exhibitions + Catalogues

While #MuseumWeek can be used to highlight timely issues in the art world, or just for fun, we are featuring some of our fantastic museum partners, along with the upcoming catalogues we’re co-publishing with them.

First up, our neighbors at the Oakland Museum of California. Opening on April 29, Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest features the dream-like works of American painter Roy De Forest.

Available now, exhibition catalogue by Susan Landauer

“In this thoroughly professional, immaculately organized, and factually overflowing book, the reader is set to be inspired by the adventure that was Roy De Forest.” —New York Journal of Books

The engaging catalogue presents gorgeous color reproductions of De Forest’s finest artworks, plus a variety of figure illustrations that illuminate the artist’s diverse sources and freewheeling social and creative milieu in Northern California.

Check out OMCA’s new e-magazine for extensive content related to the show, including listening stations featuring audio narrations from unconventional guides. Of special note, this exhibition is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

It should come as no surprise that our neighbor across the Bay, the de Young Museum (FAMSF) is the host of the Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll exhibition opening on April 8. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary, this will be an exhilarating display of iconic rock posters, photographs, interactive music and light shows, costumes and textiles, ephemera, and avant-garde films of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967.

Extensively illustrated with thematic plates and essays, the catalogue explores the visual and material cultures of a generation searching for personal fulfillment and social change.

Start your journey back in time with the museum’s new digital story, ‘Idealism on Haight’, which includes audio narrative by curator Jill D’Alessandro and more.

Also, the California Historical Society has teamed up with San Francisco Travel to create a compelling site, complete with a calendar of events and historical content.

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art has another historic (and nostalgic) show coming up: The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology opening June 3.

On the New York Times“notable openings” list for the Spring/Summer, this major traveling exhibition was organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography in collaboration with the MIT Museum, Cambridge, Mass., and the WestLicht Museum of Photography, Vienna.

Looking at the creative exploration of the relationship between Polaroid’s many technological innovations and the art that was created with their help, the richly designed catalogue has over 300 illustrations, and impressively showcases not only the myriad and often idiosyncratic approaches taken by such photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Carey, and Chuck Close, but also a fascinating selection of the technical objects and artifacts that speak to the sheer ingenuity that lay behind the art.

The Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara has Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972 on view through April 30.

Also featured in the New York Times this week, the show next travels to the New York Public Library in May, followed by Jacob’s Pillow Dance in the Berkshires.

“On a hillside in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco, amid the redwood trees, lies what is arguably the most important outdoor deck in American dance history.”—New York Times

The Radical Bodies show and catalogue reunites Halprin, Forti, and Rainer for the first time in more than fifty-five years, examining the work and influence of the three artists. Placing the body and performance as political practice at the center of the aesthetic debate, each thereby developed a corporeal language and methodology that continues to influence choreographers and visual artists to the present day. Radical Bodies also made the news surrounding political protests in New York in January. Timely indeed.


Ed Ruscha and the Great American West opens at the de Young

Ruscha cover image
Ed Ruscha and the Great American West, co-published with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Named as one of five “must-see” exhibits by the Wall Street Journal, ‘Ed Ruscha and the Great American West‘ opens this week at the de Young.

This stunning catalogue, produced in close collaboration with the Ruscha studio, offers the first full exploration of the painter’s lifelong fascination with the romantic concept and modern reality of the evolving American West. Take a virtual trip through some landmark images below (and then get thee to the museum, pronto).

 

To see more, get your own copy at your local bookstore, or purchase online at FAMSFIndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on ucpress.edu, enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).


Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition at the de Young

This week marks the opening of a truly historic exhibition at the de Young Museum, and we are proud to be the publishing partner for the lavishly illustrated accompanying catalogue, Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

9780520287181

Timed with the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915, Jewel City presents a large and representative selection of artworks from the fair, emphasizing the variety of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints that greeted attendees. It is unique in its focus on the works of art that were scattered among the venues of the exposition—the most comprehensive art exhibition ever shown on the West Coast. It notably included the first American presentations of Italian Futurism, Austrian Expressionism, and Hungarian avant-garde painting, and there were also major displays of paintings by prominent Americans, especially those working in the Impressionist style.

This slideshow showcases just some of the delights of the exhibit.

Don’t miss visiting the museum for this rich and fascinating study of a critical moment in American and European art history. You will be transported back to an artistic salon inside the Palace of Fine Arts, and impressed by stunning works by famous and unknown artists alike.

Member preview hours are today, and the opening day of the exhibit (Saturday, October 17th) coincides with a free community day in celebration of 10 years of the new de Young.

Coverage of the exhibition can be explored via the below links, and for additional events celebrating the centennial of the PPIE visit, http://www.ppie100.org/

SF Gate exhibition review

SF Gate exhibition feature

Wall Street Journal exhibition feature