This book is the result of a long process dating back to befare Europeans christened an entire continent "America": the reinterpretation, in modern and contemporary culture, of the forms and meanings of ancient civilizations and Indigenous cultures, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
With essays by sorne thirty international experts, its pages and its more than eight hundred illustrations take us back to the late eighteenth century and across the nineteenth century through scientific expeditions, archaeological discoveries, the formation of collections, and the subsequent development of historicist architecture. The book then looks at Americanist identity, which became more pronounced in the early twentieth century as a result of the reinterpretation of pre-Columbian knowledge and languages-especially in schools of arts and crafts-that revolutionized graphic design, literature, theater, film, music, and fashion. And finally, turning to the inventions of "ancestral" culture in the twentieth century-when new artists ventured to once again explore the American continent, collected their finds, and documented them in drawings and photographs-the journey of Befare América: Ori3inal Sources in Modern Culture brings us back to the present day, revealing how the Amerindian paradigm persists around the world: in geometry and color, in the critica! or ironic quoting of the past, in Indigenous-based postmodern architecture, in intentional kitsch, in conceptual refinement, and in the sophisticated revitalization of ancient arts and crafts, now full of new and fascinating sociopolitical and aesthetic meanings.