Ancient Forms for the Modern Eye April 2018 - Page 3

Colnaghi is proud to present two related collections of Pre-
The same words could be said of the collection of 43 Peruvian animal
Columbian art lovingly and intelligently assembled over three
effigy vessels. In fact, it is important to stress that both collections
decades: a superb group of 32 Andean and Central American
presented here have been professionally researched and carefully curated
stone mace heads, and a representative gathering of 43 Andean
for many years. Far from being merely attractive accumulations, these
animal effigy vessels. These last Andean vessels span close to three
collections have been assembled, vetted and studied by very discerning
millennia, from the so-called Initial Period in the Andes (circa 1200
eyes. Included are vibrant and life-like ceramic models of animals
BC) to the Spanish conquest of that area in the sixteenth century.
produced by the various ancient Andean societies, from the early
Chavín civilization to the Inca, who were conquered by the Spanish
The geometric and abstract forms of the mace heads—which are
nearly three thousand years later. All our realistic animals, one may
painstakingly fashioned from extremely hard stone, mostly diorite—
add, are in remarkably good condition. Some are plain naturalistic,
look astonishingly contemporary to the modern eye. One almost
others more charming and alive, like the double-vessels with parrot
needs to be reminded that these stones were carved with lithic tools,
heads. And who can resist the Moche Bird-man Playing a Drum
not metal ones, and were produced by painstaking drilling, abrasion
(Cat. No. XXXIX), with its perky expression confronting the viewer?
and polishing. In terms of geography, the mace heads originate from
Costa Rica and neighboring Central American regions down to the
This is the first catalogue relating to the ancient world ever produced
Peruvian Andes. Noteworthy and even surprising is the broad range of
by Colnaghi in all of its long history, and also the first e-publication
shapes evident in this collection: globular, ribbed, spiked, cylindrical,
since the firm launched our New York branch to showcase not only
and other geometric designs compete with zoomorphic shapes that
Old Masters but also Classical Antiquities and ancient art in general.
include animal skulls, bats, owls, and even parrots. Essays in formal
I extend my warmest thanks to the owners and curators of the Pre-
abstraction is what they are. The quality is consistently very high and
Columbian collections recorded here; to the two principals of Colnaghi,
the finish of surface always exquisite. It would be extremely challenging
Jorge Coll and Nicolás Cortés, for their unwavering commitment to
to assemble a comparable collection today—when material of great
Antiquity; and to Jacob S. Coley (Manager of the New York gallery) and
quality and undoubted authenticity is increasingly difficult to find.
the Colnaghi London team for their assistance with this publication.
Dr. Carlos A. Picón


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