20 Jun 2017 08 Oct 2017

The Aztec Hotel

Mayan Revival style in America

Sven Kirsten, specialist in Tiki culture, revisits the revival of the “Mayan” culture and iconography in California in the late 19th and 20th century.

About the exhibition

Archeology ANd Fantasy

This is an exhibition about the inspirational power of archeology and the fascination with sunken cultures. Man, always on the search for the origins of his existence, marvels at the rise and fall of whole civilizations, and often uses his imagination to recreate lofty palaces and temples in his mind’s eye.

This was the case in early Meso-American archeology, where whole cities were discovered hidden under jungle vines and tropical vegetation, shrouded by a veil of mystery that fueled the imagination of the Western world. While often not academically correct, the historic documents in this exhibit are proof of the passion and artistry inspired by the wish to re-create Meso-American culture in the 20th century.


Americans suffered from a lack of historic identity, envying the Old World for the high civilizations of the Roman and Greek empires which Europe could boast in its past. The architectural and artistic achievements of Mayan and Aztec civilizations seemed to measure up to those European antecedents. Northern America happily declared to have found its roots.

This philosophy prevailed into the 1920s, and as Mayan Archeology rode a wave of unprecedented popularity in the media, architect Robert Stacy Judd announced that his Aztec Hotel in Monrovia represented the first example of a 100% all-American architecture. The contradiction of the name “Aztec” being bestowed on a building that used mostly Mayan style elements was symptomatic for the free-wheeling use and interpretation of Meso-American artistic sources.

For a brief period, from the mid-1920s to the late 1930s, Mayan Architecture and design became de rigueur in America. This exhibition presents a cross-section of this unique pop culture phenomenon, including the high style interpretations of Frank Lloyd Wright and the pop-cultural expressions of the mid-20th Century.

  • Place:  Atelier Martine Aublet
  • TimeSlots:
    From Tuesday 20 June 2017 to Sunday 08 October 2017
  • Accessibility:
    • Handicap moteur
  • Public: All publics
  • Categorie : Exhibitions

The exhibition in pictures

© Views of ancient monument in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Frederick Catherwood, 1844 © Bibliothèque de l’Image, Paris.

Around the event

Guided tours, workshops, concerts, etc.
all activities organized as part of the event

Around the event