Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico
October 2, 2010–January 9, 2011
The exhibition also includes small-scale jadeite objects that embody the symbolism of sacred and secular authority among the Olmec. Olmec artists were unsurpassed in their ability to work with this extremely hard stone, using elementary tools like chert, water and sand.
By Scott Norris
The Olmecs pre-dated the rise of Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and began developing highly sophisticated works of art as early as 1500 BC. Olmec art is striking and distinctive, with some works viewed as among the most beautiful in all of ancient America.
The Olmecs are particularly known for the creation of giant stone heads. Seventeen of the monumental heads have been discovered, with the largest weighing up to 24 tons. Carved from single blocks of basalt, the massive works are thought to depict helmeted Olmec rulers. In addition to at least two of the heads, the exhibition will include over 100 objects from large, naturalistic sculptures to finely wrought jade figurines.
By Christopher Knight
Olmec exhibit at LACMA--November 9, 2010
Comment: This was a good exhibit, if not a great one. I probably wouldn't recommend it unless you're a fan of Mesoamerican art and culture. Or unless you can go on the monthly free-admission day, as I did.
I agree with Knight's comments about the organization. I didn't realize there was some organization. The texts on the plaques were too academic so I mostly skipped them.
I would've liked to see more storytelling, even some speculation, about the objects. Find ways to bring them to life, people. Use paintings, photos, videos, dioramas, or mannequins to give us some context.
Some takeaways from the exhibit:
For a previous Mesoamerican exhibit, see Aztec Pantheon at Getty Villa. For more on the Olmec, see Olmec Writing in National Treasure 2.