Claudia Brittenham

Biography

Claudia Brittenham's research focuses on the art of ancient Mesoamerica, with particular attention to the ways that the materiality of art and the politics of style contribute to our understanding of the ontology of images. Her most recent book is The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Mexico (2015). She is also co-author with Mary Miller of The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak (2013), and with Stephen Houston and colleagues, a co-author of Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color (2009).

Her current book project, Unseen Art: Vision and Memory in Ancient Mesoamerica, explores problems of visibility and the status of images in Mesoamerica. Ranging from carvings on the undersides of Aztec sculptures, to Maya lintels, and buried Olmec offerings, it examines the distance between ancient experiences of works of art and the modern practice of museum display.  

Brittenham is active in the Global Ancient Art initiative within the Department of Art History, as well as in the Katz Center for Mexican Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Institute for the Formation of Knowledge. She is also a member of the Proyecto La Pintura Mural Prehispánica en México of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She received her PhD and BA from Yale University, and was formerly Assistant Curator for Eastern Hemisphere Collections at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.
 

Publications

The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central Mexico

University of Texas Press
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2015

The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak

with Mary Miller, University of Texas Press
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2013

Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color

with Stephen Houston and colleagues, University of Texas Press
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2009

“What Lies Beneath: Carving on the Underside of Aztec Sculpture,” in Conditions of Visibility, edited by Richard Neer. Center for Global Ancient Art, Visual Conversations series, Oxford University Press.  In press, forthcoming October 2019.

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"Architecture, Vision, and Ritual in the Maya City of Yaxchilan: The Structure 23 Lintels,” The Art Bulletin 101(3), forthcoming September 2019

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“Tz’ib: die Malerei der Maya als Kulturtechnik," in Kulturtechnik Malen: Die Welt aus Farbe erschaffen - Zur Grundlegung graphischer und figurativer Operationen, ed. Meret Kupczyk, Ludger Schwarte, and Charlotte Warsen. Paderborn: Wilhem Fink Verlag, pp. 47-82. In press, forthcoming fall 2019

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“When Pots had Legs: Body Metaphors on Early Classic Maya Vessels,” in Vessels: The Object as Container, ed. Claudia Brittenham, pp. 81-119. Center for Global Ancient Art. Visual Conversations series, Oxford University Press. In press, forthcoming September 2019

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“Epilogue: Quetzalcoatl and Mithra,” in Images of Mithra, by Petra Adrych, Robert Bracey, Dominic Dalglish, Stephanie Lenk, and Rachel Wood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

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“The Eloquence of Color: Material and Meaning in the Cacaxtla Murals,” in Making Value, Making Meaning: Techné in the Pre-Columbian World, ed. Cathy Lynne Costin (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, 2016)

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“Three Reds: Cochineal, Cinnabar, and Hematite in the Prehispanic Mesoamerican World,” in A Red like No Other: How Cochineal Colored the World, eds. Carmella Padilla and Barbara Anderson (Santa Fe: Museum of International Folk Art and Scala Publishers, 2015)

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“Cacaxtla Figural Ceramics,” co-authored with Debra Nagao, Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, XXXVI, no. 104 (Spring, 2014)

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“Cacaxtla: La elocuencia de los colores,” co-authored with Diana Magaloni, Piero Baglioni, Rodorico Giorgi, and Lorenza Bernini, in La Pintura Mural Prehispánica en México: Cacaxtla: Tomo II—Estudios, eds. Mária Teresa Uriarte Castañeda and Fernanda Salazar Gil (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 2013)

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“Los pintores de Cacaxtla,” in La Pintura Mural Prehispánica en México: Cacaxtla: Tomo II—Estudios, eds. Mária Teresa Uriarte Castañeda and Fernanda Salazar Gil (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 2013)

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Profiles

Potters Wheel
Richard Neer
Ancient Greek Art and Architecture
CWAC 259
773.702.5890
Andrei Pop
Andrei Pop
Modern Art and Aesthetics
1130 East 59th Street
773.702.8410
Lisa Zaher
Lisa Zaher
Modern and Contemporary Art
2013-14
University of Chicago
Conservation Research Fellow