On and off for the last year and a half, I've been obsessing on astrolabes. I'd master (or so I thought) one of its functions -- say, figuring out what time the sun will set on a given day. Then I'd give astrolabes a rest, focus on a review or other deadline, and come back … Continue reading Ah, my little astrolabe…
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.
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
For personal reasons, I'm not traveling these days but I managed to make one exception: a same-day round trip to LA to spend exactly 2 1/2 hours at LACMA in order to see "The Jeweled Isles: Art From Sri Lanka." The first article on art I ever wrote for the WSJ was on a 1993 … Continue reading Sri Lanka, the ‘jeweled isle’
The Triumph of Death painting discussed in my WSJ Masterpiece essay is so complex, I thought it would be helpful to provide some closer views. Here are snapshots I took in Palermo, beginning at the center then moving clockwise around the painting. And here is how all the elements come together -- this photo clearly … Continue reading Triumph of Death
Standing before a six-paneled folding screen at the Giuseppe Piva Gallery’s show, I found myself thinking about, of all things, perspective. Painted in the 17th century, the screen depicts moments from a battle in October 1600 that ushered in the Tokugawa shogunate. As great as the battle scenes are, what caught my attention was the … Continue reading Asia Week musings
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
Some say it's the Year of the Rooster, but in my book, it's year of the Han. There has been a succession of shows highlighting this dynasty, which ruled from 206 B.C. to 220 AD. It so consolidated a sense of identity that ethnic Chinese today still identify as "Han." In New York alone, there … Continue reading Kings dreaming of immortality
The Japanese galleries at the Met are like a bride -- they always have something old, something new, and no doubt if you look hard enough you'll spot something blue. This summer, bamboo art is the overarching theme, starting with "The Gate," an amazing construct that artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV created for the entrance to … Continue reading Bamboo art in the Met’s Japanese galleries
In my review of the Dallas Museum of Art's installation of the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, I mention the variety in ceramics but did not have the room to go into detail. The very least I can do is give some visuals to support that contention.