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“Art” does not reside in objects; it is society that decides what is and what isn’t art. Naturalism and abstraction are both always available to the artist if required by the social context. Depending on their size and complexity different societies have chosen specific types of styles and subjects for their communicating devices. The widespread use of writing fundamentally changes the role of things and puts them in a secondary position.

– Esther Pasztory, Thinking with Things (2005)


Esther Pasztory is an art historian, specializing in Teotihuacan, Aztec, and Art Theory, as well as being a writer. She is a Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor Emerita of Pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.

Pasztory has published extensively in the field of pre-Columbian art, including the first art historical manuscripts on Teotihuacan and the Aztecs. Born in Hungary, she emigrated to the United States in 1956, after the anti-Communist revolution. She attended Vassar College and Barnard Collage where she received a BA in art history. With her dissertation at Columbia, entitled The Murals of Tepantitla, Teotihuacan, she received her PhD in 1971. She was a Visiting Professor at UCLA in Los Angeles. Esther now lives in San Francisco, California.

She lectures and has taught the art of both Mesoamerica and the Andes and focuses on the work of art as a source of evidence for the reconstruction of ancient cultures related to but separate from archaeological and textual data. She is engaged in a theoretical study of the relationship of art and society.

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Some of her books. Go here to read about Pasztory’s Books:


Read more about her life and passion of ancient cultures in her own words here.

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