Casas Grandes and the Ceramic Art of the Ancient Southwest
Edited by Richard F. Townsend
Essays by Ken Kokrda, Barbara L. Moulard, and Richard F. Townsend
The Art Institute of Chicago
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven
Hardback with slip cover, 208 pages, illustrated with 214 color and 33 black-and-white images and vintage photographs and maps
In the flourishing ancient Indian communities of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, master potters created ceramic arts that are considered among the most accomplished in the world. The symbolic imagery and distinctive local styles of the region are unmistakable—simple volumetric shapes covered with complex, interlocking geometric designs that are sometimes combined figures. This lavishly illustrated catalogue focuses on the ceramic works of the Casas Grandes region of northwest Mexico, which flourished at the ancient site of Paquimé, around A.D. 1280-1450.
In the accompanying essays, expert art historians and an artist-teacher discuss the complex imagery of approximately 80 Casas Grandes vessels with 60 pieces representing other major styles of the greater Southwest. Superb examples show polychromatic designs of real and mythological animals, together with abstract human figures and remarkably varied geometries, demonstrating the imaginative complexity and exceptional achievement of the Casas Grandes potters. Certain motifs reflect affinities with distant Mesoamerica, yet the authors show that these forms were absorbed into a visual vocabulary that reflected the unique artistic and cosmological outlook of Casas Grandes, within the native Southwestern cultural tradition.