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Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas

  • Edited by Joanne Pillsbury, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter

    This volume accompanies a major international loan exhibition featuring more than three hundred works of art, many rarely or never before seen in the United States. It traces the development of gold working and other luxury arts in the Americas from antiquity until the arrival of Europeans in the early sixteenth century. Presenting spectacular works from recent excavations in Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico, this exhibition focuses on specific places and times—crucibles of innovation—where artistic exchange, rivalry, and creativity led to the production of some of the greatest works of art known from the ancient Americas. The book and exhibition explore not only artistic practices but also the historical, cultural, social, and political conditions in which luxury arts were produced and circulated, alongside their religious meanings and ritual functions. 

    Golden Kingdoms creates new understandings of ancient American art through a thematic exploration of indigenous ideas of value and luxury. Central to the book is the idea of the exchange of materials and ideas across regions and across time: works of great value would often be transported over long distances, or passed down over generations, in both cases attracting new audiences and inspiring new artists. The idea of exchange is at the intellectual heart of this volume, researched and written by twenty scholars based in the United States and Latin America.

    This volume was published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center September 16, 2017 through January 28, 2018 and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York February 26 to May 28, 2018. Golden Kingdoms is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

    Joanne Pillsbury is the Andrall E. Pearson Curator in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Timothy Potts is director of the J. Paul Getty Museum.  Kim N. Richter is senior research specialist in the Director’s Office at the Getty Research Institute. 

    “The book is a feast for the eyes and the mind in equal measure.”
    Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture

     “ . . . the show’s engaging exhibition catalog provides lay readers with a spirited introduction to pre-Columbian art and cultural traditions.”
    Art Bulletin

    "A lush compendium of ornaments, textiles and other objects associated with the gold-working cultures from the ancient Americas.”
    Wall Street Journal

    “With beautiful images illustrating the rich diversity of objects and the materials used to make them, this thorough book offers an insight into the values of different cultures in the ancient Americas.”
    Current World Archaeology

    “With twelve major articles and over two hundred detailed catalog descriptions/illustrations, this book will obviously be a necessity in any library that caters to an informed public.”
    Ornament magazine

    328 pages
    9 5/8 x 11 3/4 inches
    428 color illustrations, 4 maps
    ISBN 978-1-60606-548-8

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute