The Painted City: Art from Teotihuacan

Art of the Americas Building, Level 4
March 29, 2014–January 4, 2015

This small exhibition, drawn from the museum's extensive collection of the Art of the Ancient Americas, features painted ceramics that come from the ancient city of Teotihuacan. The exhibition includes 14 painted tripod vessels from LACMA’s collection, one of the largest in the United States, and a mural fragment on loan from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Adjacent to the modern metropolis of Mexico City in the valley of Mexico, Teotihuacan grew to be the sixth largest city in the world by 500 CE. As the city’s population boomed, sprawling apartment complexes were erected to accommodate a fast-growing middle class. These residences, depicted in an 18-foot mural included in the exhibition, were painted in a vivid palette, and spoke to the city’s prosperity and the development a distinct urban aesthetic rooted in the architectural context of the home.

As the largest metropolis in Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan attracted artists and merchants from across the region and became a place where ideas and technologies were traded readily. Teotihuacanos developed a pictorial writing system dependent on a shared system of signs that adorned the city. Painted ceramics provide one of the most important avenues for understanding Teotihuacan’s visual language and attest to the principal role that painting played in the city's artistic tradition.

See this exhibition for free: become a member.

This exhibition is presented through the generous support of The Arvey Foundation.

Image: Tripod Vessel, Mexico, Teotihuacan, Teotihuacán, 400–650, Stuccoed hin orange ceramic with postfire applied pigments, Height: 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm), Gift of Constance McCormick Fearing (AC1996.146.55).