Dara Mayers - 09/12/2019
Little is known about the people of ancient West Mexico. They had no written language, and, unlike the Aztecs and Mayans, did not create any large scale art or monumental architecture. Virtually all we know of these cultures comes from their ceramic arts, which were buried in shaft tombs, deep in the earth, preserving them, sometimes remarkably well, for thousands of years.
Unlike other Mexican artists from antiquity, the artists of the Pacific Coast sculpted images of daily village life and people engaged in ordinary activities, and each region developed its own distinct artistic style. Some you may be familiar with: the smooth, rounded forms of Colima, the stiff bodied, staring eyes of traditional Jalisco figures, the space-people of Zacatecas.
Nayarit ceramic figures are unique in that many have the appearance of being made quickly, as if the sculptor was attempting to capture a moment in time— the figures tend to be expressive, and alive. We are pleased to offer a beautiful pair of the “Ixtlan Del Rio” type of Nayarit.
The pair is a classic example of the type; a male and female figure, he holding a ball, she a small vase. They sit in a relaxed pose, lounging as any couple might, her head slightly lifted. Their surface is vibrant, the sophisticated polychrome patterning on their clothing is paradigmatic of the type, and perfectly matched. They are in excellent condition, and come to us with excellent provenance. Similar examples are held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Met, the Los Angeles County Museum, and at the Crocker Museum.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were obsessive collectors of Pre-Columbian ceramics, and included imagery in many of their works. You can see West Mexican ceramics in one of her celebrated paintings from 1932 and another from 1938. You can also see the influence of these works on contemporary artists such as Fernando Botero.
West Mexican Ceramics share a common thread: they are abstracted and highly stylized, and look strangely modern--they are truly timeless. You too can own a vibrant piece of history and a unique work of art. See below for more beautiful and well-provenanced pieces from West Mexico.