In this text, Damián Bayón considers what kinds of “characteristic forms” are visible in American art across historical periods encompassing pre-Columbian, colonial, and modern art and architecture. He conducts his inquiry by creating what he calls an ideal imaginary museum of American art, selecting case studies of what he judges are the most significant forms of art from the most productive regions. Bayón analyzes ceramics from Mexico and Peru, as well as Aztec, Mayan, Zapotec, and Incan architecture in these countries. Although he notes the many formal differences between the architecture of these cultures, Bayón identifies a shared formal excessiveness. Later, he focuses his analysis of colonial art on architecture and sculpture, arguing that pre-Colonial and indigenous cultures were compatible because they were both primarily practical in function and the Spanish were not interested in creating architecture that was symbolically contrary to “native” architecture. In the modern era, Bayón argues, the large influx of immigrants into cities caused artists to look to Europe for inspiration. He notes how there has always been art concerned with “pure aesthetics” in America, citing Figari, Torres-García, and Pettoruti’s work. But, he emphasizes that the most typical American artists display what he calls an exasperated violence in their paintings. Tamayo, Lam, and Matta are exemplary of this strain.