Ceramic figurines from Xochipala, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, are renowned for their attention to anatomical detail and expressiveness. Precise renditions of human anatomy—including bone, muscle, and fat as well as the telltale signs of age—lead us to imagine that the figurines are portraits of specific individuals. Perhaps the greatest example of Xochipala figural art, the seated pair displayed here captures an engaged, animated conversation, brilliantly expressed through the careful posing of unadorned bodies. Although Xochipala figures once were believed to predate the Olmec culture, modern scientific analyses indicate that they were made one thousand years later than previously thought, after the decline of the Olmec.
Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the Collections, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2013).
10,000 Years of Art (London and New York: Phaidon, 2009).
Allen Rosenbaum, "'Gillett and Me': How a Eurocentric Museum Director Learned to Love Pre-Columbian Art," Record of the Princeton University Art Museum 64 (2005): 8-19.
Hugh Honour and John Fleming, A World History of Art, 7th revised edition (London: Laurence King Publishing, 2005).
Curt Muser, Facts and Artifacts of Ancient Middle America: A Glossary of Terms and Words Used in the Archaeology and Art History of Pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America (NewYork: E. P. Dutton, 1978).
Carlo T. E. Gay, Xochipala: The Beginnings of Olmec Art (Princeton, The Princeton University Art Museum, 1972).
Gillett G. Griffin, "Xochipala, the Earliest Great Art Style in Mexico," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 116, no. 4 (August 1972): 301-309.