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The pre-Columbian art of Latin America is still being discovered in the mountain valleys, deserts, tropical jungles and storerooms of museums and private collectors. From ancient Valdivian figurines and vessels dating back to 3500 BC to Inca and Aztec objects created just before the Spanish explorers landed, a rich array of works from ancient Latin American cultures is represented here, all from the Jimmy and Leonora Belilty collection. Spanning 50 centuries and covering the vast geographic expanse from southern Peru to northern Mexico, this collection presents a remarkable survey of ancient art. There are images of gods, portraits of men and women, representations of animals and plants and objects of pure abstraction. Jade, gold, clay, stone, wood, bone and shell objects reveal the wide variety of materials used by pre-Columbian artists. Assembled with an aesthetic eye and personal passion by collectors deeply familiar with modern and contemporary art, the selection is sufficiently wide-ranging to stand as a survey of its subject. Artistic quality, originality of concept and mastery of materials and workmanship are the pillars of the collection. Beautifully photographed, the objects reveal the creativity of ancient artists and the complicated worldview that is the foundation of pre-Columbian culture.
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Gillet Griffen is former curator of Ancient Art of the Americas at Princeton University Art Museum.

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