How did works of ancient, pre-Hispanic Mexico first come to the United States? Who collected them, and why? In this talk, Mary Miller will focus on the turn mid-20th century from archaeological and anthropological collections and study to those driven by the art market, and to the representation of pre-Hispanic art in departments of art history. In 1940, when international shipping lanes closed, Earl Stendahl of Hollywood became a major force, bringing pre-Hispanic art of Mexico to national, and later, international attention as art for the home and for the art museum. Fundamental to this research are the Stendahl Art Galleries records now at the Getty Research Institute and the Pre-Hispanic Art Provenance Initiative at Getty, a collaborative project to surface data of both larger practice and of individual works now in art museums world-wide.
Mary Miller is the Director of the Getty Research Institute, where she also leads the Pre-Hispanic Art Provenance Initiative (PHAPI), a systematic study of the 20th century international market for pre-Hispanic art. A specialist in the art of ancient Mexico and the Maya, her numerous publications include The Murals of Bonampak (1986), The Art of Mesoamerica (1986, now in its 6th edition), Maya Art and Architecture (1999, now in a new edition with Megan O’Neil), and The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak (2013). She is Sterling Professor Emeritus in History of Art at Yale University and the recipient of many international and national awards.