Religious Art and Architecture in Colonial Latin America

The hybridization of indigenous and European arts in the colonial Americas can best be viewed through the lens of religious art and architecture from the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru. The fusion of European and indigenous beliefs and aesthetics, and how these melded into a new style, can be viewed in architecture, retablos (altarpieces), oratorios (oratories), and paintings.…

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Mapas and Codices: Manuscripts in Ancient and Colonial Mexico

Writing has a long history in Mesoamerica from the early writing system of the Formative Period Olmec culture to the Aztec manuscripts of the early Colonial period. Less than 100 Mixtec and Aztec manuscripts are known from the pre-Hispanic and early Colonial periods that indicate the role of writing both before, during, and after the…

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Ancient American Empires: The Art of the Inka and Aztec

In the early sixteenth century, the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mesoamerica and South America in search of wealth and fame. What they found, though, were the highly complex empires of the Mexica (now known as the Aztec) of Mesoamerica and the Inka of South America. Through their sensationalized writings, the Spanish left a legacy of…

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Turquoise, Jade, Shell, and Feathers (oh my!): Materiality in the Ancient Americas

For Ancient American cultures, such as the Maya and the Inka, the materiality of the artwork held important significance. Materials like jade, turquoise, feathers, spondylus, gold, silver, and textiles were highly prized because of their association with life-giving forces, such as water, the sky, the sun, and the moon. Using examples from the VMFA’s collection,…

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The Fabergé Obsession: Romance, Revolution, and Russian Decorative Arts

Why are so many people fascinated with Fabergé’s creations and the last days of the Russian empire? The imperial eggs are worth millions and the craftsmanship of Fabergé’s creations is remarkable, but perhaps the stories of opulence, revolution, and death associated with these works are the hooks that best catch our interest. This PowerPoint talk…

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A Beautifully Broken Virginia

Come experience a unique photographic journey through the beautifully decaying rural places within our state with which so many Virginians have become fascinated. Photographer John Plashal has commemorated these abandoned gems by capturing their beauty and delivering them to you in a presentation full of powerful imagery and emotional stories. Experience the “unseen” side of…

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Art of the First Cities: Worship and Warfare in the art of the ancient Sumerians

History begins with the cities of ancient Sumer, in southern Iraq; it is here that writing was first invented.  But this first writing was used almost exclusively to record financial transactions; and so the visual arts, developed into a disciplined system to promote the power of the rulers of early Mesopotamia, give us access to…

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Love in the art of the ancient régime (or Love in the Art of 18th Century France)

Soon after ascending the throne at age 13, King Louis XV of France decided to abandon governance in favor of a life of sensual pleasures, to be enjoyed with his wife, mistresses official and unofficial, and countless encounters with young adventuresses brought to him from many parts of his country.  The formalities and complexities of…

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