Snakes on a Plane:
Look closely at each register of this wood panel from Mexico’s Oaxaca/Guerrero region (AD 1200-1400), and you’ll see a figure that’s part human, part serpent. The pairs “are animated with human arms and hands, each of which holds a sinuous serpent, while another serpent emerges from the ‘knot’ of each intertwined pair,” curator Virginia Fields explains explains on the museum’s blog. The door, a new acquisition, was made in the International Style (a term that means something else entirely in Modernism), which dominated Mesoamerica during the Late Postclassic period.
The style, a focus of next spring’s show Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico, is seen in many art forms, as the well as system of pictorial communication that “allowed peoples speaking diverse languages to communicate with each other and to participate in a widely shared set of religious practices and beliefs,” Fields writes (kind of like Modernism…).
With an array of spectacular objects including frescoes, codices, ceramics, featherwork, gold, turquoise, shell, and textiles, the exhibition presents new findings about “a confederacy of city-states in southern Mexico, largely dominated by Nahua, Mixtec, and Zapotec nobility” who “successfully resisted both Aztec and Spanish subjugation,” the museum says in a tantalizing preview. The door will feature prominently.
Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee.