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A Crack in the Mirror: Desires for Pre-Columbian and American-Made Colonial Art, Then and Now

The Oak Room, 1700 Wisconsin Avenue
December 4, 2015
05:26 PM to 06:56 PM
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Pre-Columbian Studies Public Lecture | Thomas B. F. Cummins, Harvard University

Pre-Columbian objects hold a venerable place in the collections of Dumbarton Oaks. Byzantine and Pre-Columbian works, both of which were collected by the Blisses, encompass creations of compelling aesthetic appeal fashioned by societies that came to an end within decades of each other. Centuries later, their distinct histories intersected in scholarly discourse with the formation of Dumbarton Oaks. Each culture found its works and artists dispersed, and iconoclastic fervor disavowed what these “classical” traditions had created. In this talk, art historian Thomas B. F. Cummins will discuss the relationship of both Pre-Columbian and Byzantine art to the classical world, and also the desire to collect both types of works in early modern Europe and twentieth-century Washington.
Thomas B. F. Cummins is the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of the History of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. His research and teaching focuses on Pre-Columbian and Latin American colonial art. He recently coedited The Getty Murúa: Essays on the Making of Martín de Murúa’s “Historia General del Piru,” J. Paul Getty Museum Ms. Ludwig XIII 16 (2008), Manuscript Cultures of Colonial Mexico and Peru: New Questions and Approaches (2014), and The Inka Empire Revealed: A Century after the Machu Picchu “Discovery” (2012). His most recent book is Beyond the Lettered City: Indigenous Literacies in the Andes, coauthored with Joanne Rappaport and published by Duke University Press in 2012.

Please note, this lecture will take place in the Oak Room at 1700 Wisconsin Avenue.