UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

Allison Caplan

Assistant Professor
History of Art and Architecture

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Mesoamerican art; ancient and colonial Latin America; art theory and aesthetics; materiality; art and language.


B.A. Columbia University
Ph.D. Tulane University


Allison Caplan’s research focuses on the art of the Aztec Empire and colonial New Spain, examining indigenous Nahua art theory and aesthetics, issues of materiality and value, and the relationship between visual and verbal expression. Caplan is currently working on her first book, Our Flickering Creations: Art Theory under the Aztec Empire, which reconstructs the key concepts of color, light, surface, and assemblage in Nahua art theory for works in valued media, including precious stones, feathers, and metals.

Caplan received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Art History and Latin American Studies from Tulane University and her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University. She has held fellowships and grants from the Getty Research Institute, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Johns Hopkins University.