This time-worn cover of a relic chamber is another mesmerizing work on display At the Met in "Lost Kingdoms." It was found inside a stupa at Sri Ksetra, a 1,500-year old site we visited in 2012. It is in ruinous state, so much so the World Monuments Fund added it to its endangered list. But it has … Continue reading Peering inside Myanmar’s earliest stupas
Slap a piece of wood around a painting, and you've created a border -- a signal that the viewer is leaving one kind of space and moving into another. Carve and gild that border and you're declaring that what is inside is special, very special. And sometimes the frame itself can grow so exuberant, so … Continue reading Frames rule
The whole notion of thresholds and borders between the sacred and profane got me to thinking about facades of churches and how they signal this border/threshold and perhaps none more loudly than baroque facades designed with Counter-Reformation zeal in the Italian town of Lecce. Talk about a border teeming with life forms... At first glance, … Continue reading Crossing over
One reader commented... "And the “borderland” is often the richest, most productive and releaving place to be. In ecology, scientists study and celebrate the “edge” — the edge between sea and land, between fresh and salt water, between one climatic zone and another. There they find not only an incubator for distinctive forms of life … Continue reading Borders
The Wall Street Journal's art page has this great feature called the Masterpiece column in which you get to just stop and spend time on one work. As every writer who has done one of these will tell you, it is exhilarating and frustrating. I don't have to explain the first part, at least not … Continue reading Saving the Sea of Milk
Whether or not the ancient Khmer had a word for it, they certainly knew how to express the power of transitions and threshholds in stone. Sure wish "liminality" had some of that oomph.
Whether it is a temple or a stupa or one of the many (many!) gilded Buddhas in Myanmar, it is hard to believe that they started off looking something like this -- Now, I'm not too crazy about gilt (no matter the spelling), but these gleaming domes and statues took on a different glow once … Continue reading What lies behind gilt… in Myanmar
...or as they might say in Myanmar, ogres are in the details. Walk up to temples in Bagan, spot some stucco decoration clinging to the bricks...and chances are you'll come face to face with some fierce protectors... And, seriously, could we not all use one or two of these?
It was the falling that hit me first: the reflection of buildings in the smooth water along the parapet then their dissolving into water that plummets first to one level then, through the center, to unseen depths. Then came the particularity: the parade of names carved into the black stone and, just as powerful, the … Continue reading Memorials
They're sculptures, but you walk through them and experience them the way you experience a building. I'm talking about the work of Richard Serra, whose "Junction" and "Cycle" are -- what? on view? open? available for hiking, the way gorges carved by time and the elements are? -- at Gagosian Gallery in NY.