Yesterday I mentioned that I was taking a course called Lo Monstruoso en el Arte Mexicano. Monstruoso can be used to describe of course the often huge sculptures of the Mesoamericans which appear so puzzling to US eyes.These sculptures and the enormous buildings often adorned with art were made by the the people who built civilizations before the Spanish ever saw the light of day as Spaniards
The earliest known of these are the famous Olmec heads, carved mostly from basalt boulders somehow brought downriver from the mountains of Veracruz, maybe one thousand years before Christ. Wikipedia, from whom I stole this picture, has a good brief article about them.
Even better, for a voyage into Mesoamerican art and craft go to the website of the of the National Museum of Archaeology here.
The cnourse I'm taking is carefully tracing the influences on modern Mexican art. The scholarly professor has given assignments these past two weeks in the aesthetics of classical Greek art, also influential i Mexican art as you can see in my article on Saturnino Herrán, though I didn't particularly address the classical influence You can scroll through it here. Towards the end especially the influence becomes clear.
At the very end is a painting of the monstrous-looking (to us--I'm not sure how she would have appeared to the Aztecs et. al.) Coatlicue in whose embrace rests the crucified Jesus. I imagine this image may show up in our class.
The course has forums for student commentary, student responses to questions the profesora proposes. This week's questions included what we first came to mind when we thought of beauty and of art. I imagine she wants us to look at our own beliefs about these, something I haven't done for a long time.
But now I find myself remembering the past.
Now that I am seventy I think I am officially old. They say that old people start to recall the past with greater vividness than the present.That still is not the case with me, but the question on art led me back to my childhood and adolescence in New York and Woodstock, to scenes of all kinds of painting considered avant garde at the time. I will write more about this. I can't help it.