“In Maya art—one of the greatest artistic traditions of the ancient Americas—the gods are depicted in all stages of life: as infants, as adults at the peak of their maturity and influence, and finally, as they age. The gods could perish, and some were born anew, providing a model of regeneration and resilience. Opening November 21, 2022, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art will bring together nearly 100 rarely seen masterpieces and recent discoveries in diverse media—from the monumental to the miniature—that depict episodes in the life cycle of the gods, from the moment of their birth to resplendent transformations as blossoming flowers or fearsome creatures of the night. Created by masters of the Classic period (A.D. 250–900) in the spectacular royal cities in the tropical forests of what is now Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, these landmark works evoke a world in which the divine, human, and natural realms are interrelated and intertwined. Lenders include major museum collections in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, and many of these works have never been exhibited in the U.S., including new discoveries from Palenque (Mexico) and El Zotz (Guatemala).” — The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Lives of the Gods invites us to experience the exhilarating and profound power of Maya visual artistry,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “This stunning exhibition presents spectacular works of art—many rarely seen, especially in New York— and compelling reflections on depictions of the divine; the importance of ancestral knowledge; and new understandings of Maya creative practices and the artist’s role in court society. This is sure to be a memorable show for our visitors.”
“These Maya artists gave form to the gods in inspired ways, through remarkable works of visual complexity and aesthetic refinement,” said Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art, The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at The Met. “As archaeologists continue to make major discoveries, our knowledge of Classic Maya visual culture becomes enriched, and exhibitions—like this one—reveal new understandings of the relationships between ancient communities and the sacred.”
The exhibition is organized by Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art, The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Yale University, and Laura Filloy Nadal, Associate Curator, also at The Met in The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. The exhibition was initially conceived with James Doyle, Director the Matson Museum, Associate Research Professor, Pennsylvania State University, and is organized at the Kimbell by Jennifer Casler Price, Curator of Asian, African, and Ancient American Art.
Images courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.