Trees aren’t always just trees

There were some kind of cypress (I think) trees near our home in south India that looked like guests at a cocktail party, one limb reaching out for a drink, another curling back as though to bring a cigarette to the lips.  Maybe that's why I get such a kick looking at the inventive depiction … Continue reading Trees aren’t always just trees

A basket made of ivory

So many works, so few column inches...  Here is one of many pieces I couldn't squeeze into my review of the Asian Export Art Gallery at the Peabody Essex Museum (which you can read in the WSJ or in my archive).  The museum simply labels it, "Basket, 1800-15."   What is it, you ask?  Why, … Continue reading A basket made of ivory

The power of leaving a hand- or footprint.

A couple of people were taken with the notion, mentioned in my review of "Faith and Empire," that by making a foot- or handprint, one creates a permanent link with the object, the way, say, the shroud that wrapped a saint's body becomes a relic. Credit goes to  Kathryn Selig Brown, a scholar of Tibetan … Continue reading The power of leaving a hand- or footprint.

Portraits in bronze

One of the many treats in "Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism" at the Rubin Museum of Art are two bronze portraits of lamas.  We see so many idealized Buddha and bodhisattva figures, it's easy to forget that the sculptors were also capable of expressing people's individuality.  Meet lama Change Rolpai Dorje … Continue reading Portraits in bronze

An Ho — a great gift, a great loss

Not long ago, I was telling a curator of Chinese art that the next time he was anywhere near New York state, he had to meet An Ho, who had trained with Pu Ru, one of the last scholar-artists of China.  This caught his attention -- but there was so much more to be said … Continue reading An Ho — a great gift, a great loss