Layers of invention

There is much deception uncovered in the Sackler's "Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered.”  There is the question of whether the show's three central paintings are really by Kitagawa Utamaro, famous mostly for his ukiyo-e prints.  For that matter, was Utamaro himself the 17th-century Don Juan of the pleasure quarters that his marketers made him out to be?  And, … Continue reading Layers of invention

More about the Qin and the Han

Two shows could not be more complimentary in tone and emphasis than the Asian Art Museum's "Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty" and the Met's "Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties."  I won't repeat what I said in WSJ reviews (here and here) but instead talk about a few … Continue reading More about the Qin and the Han

Peeking at Life through Death

Jade amulets, bronze vessels, dancing figures, accessories -- we've come to expect that from ancient tombs in China.  But sex aides and toilets?  That was a first for me, though I will admit not the most fascinating part of the Asian Art Museum's "Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty"  (you can read my review … Continue reading Peeking at Life through Death

One of many treats of Asia week

Such a delight to see works by one of my favorite painters, An Ho, alongside a painting (on the right) by her teacher Pu Ru, one the last scholar artists of China.  There is also a marvelous hanging scroll of a tiger that Pu Ru and An Ho painted together. China 2000 Fine Art is showing some of An Ho's … Continue reading One of many treats of Asia week

An otherworldly experience

Human figures amid swirling geometrics.  Shields and spears and a looping tail whip.  Crouched men and women staring into -- and from -- eternity.  Colorful bursts of patterns conjuring at once life's unbridled power and our fear-based need to appease and control it.  Empty masks and the steadying touch of a woman's hand on a man's shoulder. My mind was spinning at "East … Continue reading An otherworldly experience

Some 20 years ago when we visited a temple in South India, a brahmin led us into a small side shrine with a large statue of Shiva as Nataraja.  The only light was the oil lamp he carried with a single flame.  Anyone familiar with 'aarthi' will know what I mean.  Basically, the priest draws circles … Continue reading

Peering inside Myanmar’s earliest stupas

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

One very good answer to a difficult question

Curators of non-Western art struggle over whether to exhibit contemporary art in so-called regional galleries --  Chinese, South Asian, African -- or to showcase them in galleries devoted to Contemporary art.   After all, today's art scene is global and, indeed, has been for a long time, ever since imperial powers taught European art history and techniques … Continue reading One very good answer to a difficult question