The first gallery introduces Spain's conquest of Mexico. A second gallery charts an array of Aztec deities. The third room considers imperial power. In each section, a few European objects are also included.
Here's the premise: Spain's adventure abroad coincided with the Renaissance, which elevated Europe's Greco-Roman history to a position of prominence. In the European mind, circa 1520, the Aztec empire resonated with the ancient Roman empire. What better place to ponder the connection than the Getty Villa, with its European antiquities housed in a Roman-style building?
The frontality of much of this sculpture is downright confrontational. The Aztec empire was an alliance of three city-states that held its coalition together for about a century, until Cortés. Confrontational art works for a civilization that, like Rome's, ruled its vast territory through a mix of warring aggression and compulsory tributes.
For more on the subject, see Aztec Treasure in Human Target and Human Sacrifice "Prevalent" Among Indians?
Below: "Goblet with Mictlantecuhtli, 1450-1521."