TRAVEL HERE: MESOAMERICANS WERE CUBISTS BEFORE CUBISM WAS COOL
Today let’s go to the newest exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico.
Mesoamerican Party Time
My first look at the exhibit was on a Friday night at a Sustainers/Friends/Advocates Party – and party we did. Delicious snacks with a South of the Border flavor, cash bar and costumed dancers. I’m talking stuffed avocado halves, flautas, chips with a salsa bar. YUM! And the dancers? The were so intense Bill found them a little spooky. I’m telling you, you need to join the DMA. They know how to throw a bash.
I walked into the party, whipped through the exhibit and focused on the avocado halves, but we did make it down to the lecture. This was not my first Ancient Mesoamerican exhibit, so the plumed serpent, golden artifacts and human sacrifices were not new, but I was reminded of the extensive trading routes Aztec merchants traveled. Decades ago I’d read Gary Jennings’ Aztec, which I thoroughly enjoyed. (It was a little heavy in the sex scenes for me, but it was a great story which had been carefully researched.) The main character was an Aztec trader, so it was fun to be reminded of an old favorite.
After the lecture the dancers took over. They wore huge feathered headdresses, shell rattles around their ankles and lots of paint. The pounding feet and the angular body movements reminded me of some of the modern dance I’ve seen over the years. Bill and I took another glance at a few items that were mentioned in the lecture and headed home.
How I Arrived at Cubism
When I’m at a new exhibition, in the back of mind, I’m thinking about how I will present it in my blog. What’s most important? Can I honestly recommend that you take time to see it? Sometimes, I know how I will approach it immediately. At other times it takes a little longer to wrap my mind around it.
The morning after the party I woke up thinking about one of the slides they’d shown in the lecture. At first glance, it looked like a square tube with some lines carved into it, but on further examination it’s a plumed serpent, captured minimally in a series of squares and rectangles. When you know what you’re looking at, the squares and rectangles are actually a form of writing. How cool is that? I shook that well with the expressive native dancing and it took me immediately to modern day art forms.
“Hey,” I thought, “the Mesoamericans beat Picasso to Cubism.” But then I thought maybe I was just getting desperate for something to write about, so I asked Bill. He saw the connection immediately. We chased the idea through other items in the exhibit and were more firmly convinced of our discovery.
So, I want you to go to the exhibit soon. There’s gorgeous jewelry, impressive pottery and even some amazing maps the Mesoamericans drew for the Conquistadors. You’ll enjoy the exhibit. But while you’re there, see if you can see the Cubist connection and get back to me.