The Sacred Symbols exhibition provides a unique
opportunity to see the arts created by the people of the ancient Americas
in all their beauty, variety, and complexity. It features works from
a selection of the notable civilizations found throughout North, Central,
and South America, objects ranging in time of creation from 2500 B.C.
to the initial period of contact with Europeans in the 16th century.
These pieces represent a great variety of artistic styles powerfully
expressing the fundamental religious, historical, and political aspects
of the lives of the people who created them.
All of the approximately 180 objects in the exhibition
have been selected from the collections of American museums in the FRAME
(French Regional American Museums Exchange) consortium and are masterpieces
reflecting the strongest works available throughout the United States.
Highlights of the show include elegant ceramics decorated with abstract
and representational art designs from the Southwestern region of the
present United States, as well as refined stone sculptures, ceramics,
and personal ornaments from the Southeast. Ancient Mexican cultures
are represented by the superbly carved jade statues of figures and animals
of the Olmec, the expertly painted ceramic vessels illustrating themes
from mythology and history, and elaborately carved stone figures created
by artists of the Maya civilization, and the inventive ceramic sculptures
from the people of the Colima, Nayarit, and Jalisco regions representing
different aspects of everyday life. From Central America there are magnificent
golden ornaments fashioned in the form of human beings, mythological
figures, and animals, which were used by chiefs and other people of
high status to adorn themselves and mark their status. There are also
beautifully modeled and painted ceramics from Ancient Peru, representing
individuals, animals, and objects from the ceremonial and political
culture of the Moche and Nazca people, plus some highly ornamented Incan
vessels showing the interaction of Native Americans and Europeans.
Sacred Symbols recently completed a successful
tour of these four French museums:
||Musée Fabre, Montpellier, July 17September
||Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, October 25,
2002January 13, 2003
||Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, February 20April
||Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, May 28August
This exhibition was organized by The Minneapolis Institute
of Arts, led by Evan M. Maurer, Curator, and Molly E. Hennen, Assistant
Curator, of the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.