The culture of the Aztecs was primarily forged from the culture of their predecessors, the Olmecs, the Toltecs, and the inhabitants of Teotihuacßn (Art 2). The Aztecs flourished as a civilization for two millennia before being decimated by smallpox and the Spanish conquest led by Cortes. In order to justify the systematic destruction of the Aztecs, the Spanish often represented them as a barbaric and savage culture. However, artworks uncovered in archaeological expeditions have uncovered the inaccuracy that such an assumption represents as the totality of Aztec culture. A current exhibition of recently uncovered Aztec works of art at the Guggenheim caused on art historian to maintain:
The biased view of the æsavage AztecsÆ remains alive and well in the modern world of popular books and television documentaries. The works of Aztec art on display at the Guggenheim provide an important counter to the biases of historical accounts (Smith 36).
This analysis will explore the various forms of art created by this Ancient culture wiped away by Spanish colonization.
After 1521, there are few remaining artworks from Aztec civilization, primarily because the Spanish either destroyed them to erect monuments to their own culture or melted down or retooled ones made of precious ores or minerals. However, before this time there are a number of works of Aztec art in existence, especially because of a fairly recent archaeological dig that unearthed a treasure trove of Aztec art objects now on display at the Guggenheim. The art of the Aztecs was influenced by the culture of their predecessors, as many of their artworks show the Teotihuacßn style. However, as Smith (37) reports, the Aztecs eventually evolved their own style as well, such as the creation of ôstone masks made of greenstone and alabaster for Anthropomorphic Masks.ö
Aztec works of art ran a gamut of different media and expressions, from terra-cotta