Claudia Brittenham's research focuses on the art of ancient Mesoamerica, with particular attention to the ways that the materiality of art and the politics of style contribute to our understanding of the ontology of images. Her most recent book is The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Mexico (2015). She is also co-author with Mary Miller of The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak (2013), and with Stephen Houston and colleagues, a co-author of Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color (2009).
Her current book project, Unseen Art: Vision and Memory in Ancient Mesoamerica, explores problems of visibility and the status of images in Mesoamerica. Ranging from carvings on the undersides of Aztec sculptures, Maya lintels, and buried Olmec offerings to the logic of the Mesoamerican tomb, it examines the distance between ancient experiences of works of art and the modern practice of museum display.
Brittenham is active in the Global Ancient Art initiative within the Department of Art History, as well as in the Katz Center for Mexican Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Institute for the Formation of Knowledge. She is also a member of the Proyecto La Pintura Mural Prehispánica en México of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She received her PhD and BA from Yale University, and was formerly Assistant Curator for Eastern Hemisphere Collections at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.