Mastercraftsmen of Ancient Peru

Alan R. Sawyer
Published in 1968
112 pages, fully illustrated

Breaking with the Guggenheim Museum's predominant focus on art of the modern era, this exhibition brings together six hundred Peruvian art objects from an array of different mediums. Former director Thomas M. Messer notes that the showcased objects "become simultaneously, carriers of a great episode in the civilization of mankind and an autonomous achievement speaking through its perfection to modern sensibilities." Each group of objects is featured with a description of their cultural background as well as images in both color and black and white. An attempt is made to highlight the primary characteristics of Peruvian art with a marked emphasis on the aesthetic merits of each object.


As the twentieth century has progressed, there has been an ever-increasing awareness of the artistic as well as the archeological aspects of Peruvian antiquities. Because of the relative inaccessibility of Peru before the advent of air travel, however, world recognition of the art of ancient Peru has tended to lag somewhat behind that of Mexico and Central America. It was not until the 1950's that it began to be given its rightful place in art museums beside objects representing other great art traditions . . . . The present exhibition is the largest and most comprehensive and, we believe, the most selective ever assembled of those limited to the country's ancient heritage.

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