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Collecting Mesoamerican Art before 1940: A New World of Latin American Antiquities

Edited by Andrew D. Turner and Megan E. O’Neil 

The untold chronicles of the looting and collecting of ancient Mesoamerican objects.  

This book traces the fascinating history of how and why ancient Mesoamerican objects have been collected. It begins with the pre-Hispanic antiquities that first entered European collections in the sixteenth century as gifts or seizures, continues through the rise of systematic collecting in Europe and the Americas during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ends in 1940—the start of Europe’s art market collapse at the outbreak of World War II and the coinciding genesis of the large-scale art market for pre-Hispanic antiquities in the United States.

Drawing upon archival resources and international museum collections, the contributors analyze the ways shifting patterns of collecting and taste—including how pre-Hispanic objects changed from being viewed as anthropological and scientific curiosities to collectible artworks—have shaped modern academic disciplines as well as public, private, institutional, and nationalistic attitudes toward Mesoamerican art. As many nations across the world demand the return of their cultural patrimony and ancestral heritage, it is essential to examine the historical processes, events, and actors that initially removed so many objects from their countries of origin.

Andrew D. Turner is a senior research specialist at the Getty Research Institute. Megan E. O'Neil is assistant professor of art history at Emory University and faculty curator at the Carlos Museum.

336 pages
7 x 10 inches
91 color and 27 b/w illustrations, 1 table, 1 map
ISBN 978-1-60606-872-4

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute
Series: Issues & Debates