by César Paternosto
Published in 1996 by University of Texas Press
The ancient art of the Andes achieved its most sophisticated expression in weaving and painted pottery, as well as stone sculpture. Yet these objects have long been dismissed as “craft” items by observers for whom “art” means paintings on canvas and other manifestations of the European art tradition. In this major, paradigm-shifting book, first published in Buenos Aires in 1989 as Piedra abstracta, Cesar Paternosto offers the first comprehensive analysis of ancient Andean art in its own terms. Drawing all manifestations of Andean art–textiles, pottery, stone sculpture, carved rock outcrops, and the famous lines in the Nazca desert–into one coherent whole, he persuasively argues that these were the art media that fulfilled the symbol-making needs of a society that made no distinction between “art” and “craft.” Challenging the notion that abstraction is a development of the modern West, Paternosto reveals its deep roots as an indigenous American tradition and shows how that tradition reverberates in the work of twentieth-century artists such as Joaquin Torres Garcia, Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb, and Josef Albers. This section of the book, significantly expanded from the Spanish original, adds an important new chapter to the art history of the Americas. Engagingly written and beautifully illustrated, The Stone and the Thread unveils the masterpieces of ancient Andean art that have been long secluded in anthropological and natural history museums. It will open up new ways of seeing indigenous American art for a wide readership. A resident of New York City, Cesar Paternosto is a leading abstract artist who has exhibited widely in the Americas, Europe, and Japan.