Anthropology •  Art •  Latin America and Cultural Studies

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The Maya of Modernism: Art, Architecture, and Film

Jesse Lerner

From the time when archaeologists first began to discover the civilization's spectacular ruins, Mexico's Mayan past has been a boundless source of inspiration, ideas, and iconography for the modernist imagination. This study examines the ways artists, architects, filmmakers, photographers, and other producers of visual culture in Mexico, the United States, Europe, and beyond have mined Mayan history and imagery.

Beginning his study in the mid-nineteenth century, with the first mechanically reproduced and mass distributed images of the Mayan ruins, and ending with recent works that address this history of representation, Lerner argues that Maya modernism is the product of an ongoing pan-American modernism characterized by a continuing series of reinterpretations, collaborations, and exchanges in which Yucatecans, Mexicans and foreigners, mestizos, Mayas, and others all participate and are free to endorse, misunderstand, reinterpret, or reject each other's ideas.


Jesse Lerner is a filmmaker, curator, and professor in the Intercollegiate Media Studies program of the Claremont Colleges.

6 x 9 in. 224 pages 40 halftones