Escaping art history’s little boxes

It's the difference between a crisp line drawing and modeled, shaded painting with plenty of blurred lines.  Not as easy to describe in short sentences, but oh so rewarding.  That's how I feel about the shift in art history from a discipline of strict categories and linear progress to one that celebrates the porousness of … Continue reading Escaping art history’s little boxes

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

Mirroring Devotion

One of the things I love about religious art is the occasional blurring of the line between an object intended to inspire devotion and the depiction of devotion itself.  This happens in pretty much all religious traditions, but for whatever reason it struck me recently at "Buddhist Art of Myanmar," currently on view at the Asia Society Museum … Continue reading Mirroring Devotion

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

Of petition, prayer and poetry

A while back, my brother-in-law saw a photograph I had taken in China and asked to see more.  Now what you need to know about Robert Lawrence, aka Bob, is that he writes poetry and plays, translates ancient Greek and delves into theology--on his own, art for art's sake.  When he mentioned that some of … Continue reading Of petition, prayer and poetry

Samurai beauty

If anyone knew how to express both pageantry and lethality it was the Edo period Samurai  -- as a show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, amply demonstrates.  The headline the WSJ gave my review says it all: "Dressed to Kill in Peacetime." Much of their fearsome beauty is due to the textures and rhythm of … Continue reading Samurai beauty

Saving the Sea of Milk

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

Peeking into India’s contemporary art scene

Are Andrea and I a tad daunted at the prospect of launching Art +Asia/Writing+Video? You bet!  Are we deterred?  No way.  Reviewing a show about modernist art from India at the Rubin Museum of Art made us revisit some conversations with Indian artists and galleries  this summer.  Here are a few  works spotted at  a show of emerging … Continue reading Peeking into India’s contemporary art scene