For the Buddhist Art Collector: Rubin Museum of Art
Catalog: Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond

by Rob Linrothe and Jeff Watt
ISBN: 1932476156

Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond marks the Rubin Museum of Art's opening season as the first exhibition to focus on the "wrathful" image in Himalayan Art. Centuries after early missionaries first claimed these works and the artists who made them "demonic", the accompanying catalog takes an in-depth look at the role of "wrathful" deities in Himalayan art and in the world at large.

Focusing on 66 works of art, the book investigates how the violence, grotesque features, and explicit postures of these "wrathful" figures portray protection and benevolence. With nearly two hundred color images highlighting both the visual power and artistic craftsmanship of the artwork, the margin between horror and beauty becomes slim. This extensive catalogue includes entries of all exhibited works along with comprehensive essays by the exhibition's curator, Rob Linrothe (Associate Professor of Art History at Skidmore College), Jeff Watt (Director of the Himalayan Art Website), and Marylin Rhie (Professor of Asian Art at Smith College.) Matthieu Ricard contributes the catalogue's foreword.

Although drawing primarily from Himalayan work in RMA's permanent collection the catalog also includes non-Asian art on loan from major museums and private collections. The "demonic divine" is a fundamental paradox not limited by time or geography. Works included range from ca. 13th century Tibet through 20th century Mexico.


Demonic Divine
October 2, 2004 — March, 2006

You may be horrified by the images you see in the exhibition on this floor. Monstrous figures, garlanded with freshly severed heads, gorge on human hearts. Flayed human skins, pocked with blood and fat, are worn as garments. Hideous mounted crones plunge through seas of blood. Wrathful deities are one of the great strengths of the RMA collection, but what are we to make of these fearsome beings?

Dramatic coloring, exaggerated features, and actively posed figures give the works particular visual power. Although the featured deities are demonic in appearance, almost all are considered protectors of one type or another. They range from guardians of the individual person to protectors of a place, a monastery, or a community. They are capable of bestowing wealth and health, or reflecting the nature of the enlightened mind. Ultimately, “wrathful” deities symbolize one’s own inner powers to overcome obstacles.

In this exhibition we probe the paradox of compassionate ends through fierce means. Three kinds of beings with fierce aspects are distinguished: Dangerous Protectors, Enlightened Protectors, and Wrathful Buddhas.


Perfected Beings, Pure Realms
March 14, 2005 — December 2006

A variety of idealized human forms set in lush landscaped surroundings filled with flowers, light, and opulence symbolize the human aspiration for abundance and well-being.

What is it? Himalayan Art
On view since October 28, 2005

Himalayan art is new terrain for many people. This exhibition is intended to serve as a guide through this exhilarating landscape. It is organized into four sections, each addressing one of the following basic questions about Himalayan art: WHERE IS IT MADE? WHY IS IT MADE? HOW IS IT MADE? WHAT IS GOING ON?

Each object on view contributes a partial answer to the question “What is Himalayan art?” The installation will change periodically to refocus the questions and to pose others. The Museum as a whole is a journey along many paths through Himalayan art, offering intimate encounters and changing perspectives.

Tours Talks & Lectures

A TASTE OF RMA: Guided Tours throughout the Galleries, 3:00 pm-4:00 pm
RMA now offers complimentary guided tours throughout the galleries! Every day (except Tuesday- at 3 p.m.) for a unique journey into Himalayan Art, with new perspectives every week. Free with Museum admission. Tours are an hour long and are subject to availability (15 person maximum). Meet at the base of the spiral staircase in the RMA's lobby.

Holy Madness
Saturday, February 11th, 2006, 2:00 pm
Free with Museum admission: Curator Rob Linrothe on the new exhibition of portraits of Tantric Siddhas. Rob Linrothe is Associate Professor of Art History, Skidmore College and the Principal Curator of Holy Madness. This KEYtalk is an introduction to the international loan exhibition of Indian and Himalayan "holy fool: portraiture. These include the shared characteristics of accomplished ascetic masters or siddhas, Indian and Tibetan, Hindu and Buddhist, Sufi and Sikh. We will look at the roots of the siddha images, the flourishing of genres of mahasiddha collective portraits and narratives, and later individuals who emulate the often outlandish appearance and behavior of these charismatic characters.
A Reading: The Inheritance of Loss
Wednesday, February 1, 2006 , 7:00pm

Kiran Desai, author of the critically acclaimed Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, reads from her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss. Desai examines the imbalance between the first world and the poor, as characters "struggling with the gaps between these worlds" bravely attempt to straddle both East and West. She successfully weaves together a multitude of story lines, conjuring up fully realized characters inhabiting a remote corner of India rife with political issues. Running in tandem is the story of the immigrant son struggling to make it in the US while at home in India his world is being changed beyond recognition even as he is by America. The novel is vast in scope, fiercely funny, and compassionate.

Kiran Desai was born in India in 1971. Educated in India, England, and the United States, she received her MFA from Columbia. Currently she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Presented in association with SAJA (South Asian Journalists Assocation) $11 includes admission to the Museum's galleries.

Images © Rubin Museum of Art • Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation • New York, NY

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