Colnaghi hosts “Ancient Forms for the Modern Eye” | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Colnaghi hosts “Ancient Forms for the Modern Eye”

“Costa Rica Zoomorphic Mace Head” 1 - 500 A.D Stone: White-beige stone
(Colnaghi )

“Ancient Forms for the Modern Eye,” — a collection of 32 Andean and Central American stone mace heads, and a representative gathering of 43 Andean animal effigy vessels is currently on show at Colnaghi, London. The ongoing exhibition is on view through July 20, 2018.

These last Andean vessels span close to three millennia, from the so-called Initial Period in the Andes (circa 1200 BC) to the Spanish conquest of that area in the 16th century. Antiquities expert Carlos A. Picon writes in the catalogue: “The geometric and abstract forms of the mace heads — which are painstakingly fashioned from extremely hard stone, mostly diorite — look astonishingly contemporary to the modern eye. These stones were carved with lithic tools, not metal ones, and were produced by painstaking drilling, abrasion and polishing.”

The broad range of shapes is evident in this collection: globular, ribbed, spiked, cylindrical, and other geometric designs compete with zoomorphic shapes that include animal skulls, bats, owls, and even parrots.

Finely crafted mace heads are among the most characteristic Salinar art objects produced by painstaking pecking, abrading and polishing. “They were usually fashioned from diorite, an extremely hard igneous rock which was challenging to carve. Although the vertical ribs and spikes appear to be decorative, there is no doubt that such mace heads were lethal weapons. It seems likely that these objects also served as emblematic staffs and symbols of office for chieftains and high-ranking warriors,” he writes.

In the catalogue, Picon describes these mace heads as “rounded stones or carved animal sculptures with a central shaft opening. They do not compete, from a collector’s point of view, with the intricately carved mace heads of Peru. Peruvian mace heads are abstract and sculptural, but for scholars their motifs evoke the vertical ribs and spikes of the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus depicted on carved reliefs in the central plaza of Chavin de Huantar. The formal abstraction of Peruvian mace heads is appealing to the modern eye and reminds one of the abstract stone tools and ceremonial objects made by ancient civilizations in China, the Middle East and elsewhere in the Ancient Americas.”

The exhibition runs through July 20, 2018, at Colnaghi, London. 26 Bury Street

London SW1Y 6AL. United Kingdom.

For details visit:

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.

Founder Louise Blouin