Current Exhibition. Christmas 2018

Phoenix Art Museum presents never-before-seen artifacts from Teotihuacan

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PHOENIX, AZ.- Phoenix Art Museum is presenting Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, the first major U.S. exhibition on Teotihuacan in more than 20 years from October 6, 2018, through January 27, 2019 in Steele Gallery. This historic exhibition, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), showcases more than 200 artifacts and artworks from the UNESCO World Heritage site. This exhibition presents a rare opportunity to experience both previously and recently excavated objects drawn from major collections in Mexico, many of which are on view in the United States for the first time and include mural fragments, religious offerings, reliefs, and more. A contemporary of ancient Rome, which reached its height in 400 CE, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in the world and the most-visited archaeological site in Mexico. On view in the United States for its final run at Phoenix Art Museum, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire is a dynamic exploration of Teotihuacan as an urban environment, shedding new light on the striking parallels between urban life in the ancient Americas and life in contemporary cities.

“It’s a privilege for us to host Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire at Phoenix Art Museum,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “These objects have an important and timely cultural significance for our visitors, as they show us that the project of building communities, and the opportunities that come along with it, have an extensive history in proximity to our present-day home in Phoenix. We look forward to sharing these never-before-seen archaeological treasures with our community.”

Located approximately 30 miles outside of modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan was founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise arid corner of the Valley of Mexico. At its height a few centuries later, the city covered nearly eight square miles and featured enormous pyramids, long avenues, and residential compounds. Highlights of the exhibition include monumental and ritual artifacts from both recent and historic excavations of the three largest pyramids at Teotihuacan—the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and the Sun Pyramid. Ceramics and stone sculptures from the city’s apartment compounds, which were inhabited by diverse peoples from many parts of Mexico, also are on view.

“Teotihuacan was an unrivaled civilization in its time and presents many parallels to our contemporary culture that help us re-imagine the nearly universal phenomenon of humans making cities,” said Matthew H. Robb, curator of the exhibition and chief curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. “Teotihuacan was a city in the modern sense of the word—a place where a multiethnic population was drawn together by many of the same social, religious, and economic ideas and forces that have long compelled people to create the clustering of monumental architecture and large-scale housing that we call cities.”

“We know from these artifacts that features of life in Teotihuacan, including agriculture, a relatively high standard of living, and better economic opportunities, relate to the same phenomena that we experience in any large city today, from Phoenix to Beijing to Paris,” said Robb. “These objects show us how a successful civilization like Teotihuacan dealt with the challenges and opportunities that come with long-distance migration; how it used art to create a unifying identity for a diverse population is remarkable. Teotihuacan was a city far ahead of its time, and some of the lessons we’ve learned from these objects could apply to our own contemporary situation.”

The Mexican-led team of archaeologists who worked at the main pyramids includes specialists from around the world, including faculty from ASU’s Teotihuacan Research Laboratory (School of Human Evolution and Social Change). Together, they have made significant discoveries since the last major exhibition of Teotihuacan artifacts in the early 1990s. By bringing objects from various excavations together and encouraging visitors to understand the context of specific sites within the city, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire provides visitors with a special chance to learn more about a significant place in the Americas’ historical and cultural landscape. Over the course of the exhibition in Phoenix, the Museum will partner with ASU and its world-class archaeology faculty to create community-wide, all-ages programming to enhance visitors’ experiences of these World Heritage archaeological treasures, on view for the first time in the state of Arizona.

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Heard Museum exhibits rare works by Henri Matisse and the Native Alaskan masks that inspired him

PHOENIX, AZ.- The Heard Museum, located in Phoenix, Ariz., announced the opening of Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit, on Oct. 29, 2018. This will be the public’s first and only opportunity to see this groundbreaking exhibition exploring the surprising artistic and spiritual connection between the great 20th century French modern master, Henri Matisse, and the Indigenous people of the Arctic.

Matisse is celebrated for his sensuous approach to color and composition. Largely unknown to the general public, however, are his striking black-and-white portraits of Inuit people that were inspired, in part, by a group of Yup’ik (Native Alaskan) masks collected by his son-in-law Georges Duthuit.

In the last decade of his life, while working on his masterpiece La Chapelle de Vence, Matisse became interested in both the physical forms and spiritual concerns of the Inuit which later inspired this series of 39 individual portraits depicting the faces of Inuit men and women. In addition to original works by Matisse, the exhibition will also feature Yup’ik masks, cultural objects, archival photographs, film and ephemera totaling more than 150 pieces.

"The Heard Museum is honored to show these rarely seen works by Matisse and to share this extraordinary story with our visitors,” said David M. Roche, Heard Museum director and CEO. “Of particular significance to us is the effort this story inspired to reunite pairs of Yup'ik masks that, due to a variety of circumstances, have been separated by time and great distances. It's a thrilling and emotional experience to see them together again and advancing this type of scholarship is central to our mission."

Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit is co-curated by Sean Mooney, curator of the Rock Foundation and Chuna McIntyre, a Yup’ik artist and elder, and is the first ever exhibition to restore the original cultural practice of mated pairs of Yup’ik masks.

“It’s a privilege for us to show our masks,” said Chuna McIntyre. “All of these masks were once used together in a ceremony, then dispersed all over the world. People will experience centuries of history and it is a rare opportunity to finally have them all together again thanks to the Heard Museum.”

Yua is a Yup’ik word that represents the spiritual interconnectedness of all living things and is essential to maintaining balance and order in the Arctic way of life. The Yup’ik are Native Alaskans and their name translates to “the Real People.” A critical objective of the exhibit is to underscore the important contributions of Native Alaskans to an expanding concept of American art, as well as its intersection with broader artistic movements.

National and International exhibition collaborators include the Matisse Museum (Le Cateau) in France, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC-Berkeley and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Major funding for the exhibit has been provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Educational programs are being designed to ensure many points of entry for families, educators and youth and includes the unveiling of the exhibition mascot, Henri the Husky. Animals play an important role in Arctic cultures and Henri the Husky will be the accessible “face” to help families, youth and students engage and learn about the art and themes in the exhibition. Henri will be incorporated into all collateral materials including a Matisse Family Guide as well as the companion family exhibition It’s Your Turn: Matisse in the Sandra Day O’Connor Gallery and public events including First Fridays and Holidays at the Heard. An original ink drawing by Matisse depicting his beloved dog Raudi will be shown in It’s Your Turn: Matisse and hung at eye-level for kids to enjoy.