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Kurt Behrendt is an associate curator in the Department of Asian Art.
Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art
Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014
The upcoming Met Museum Presents talk Journeys to Divinity, along with the current exhibition Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations, touch on how imagery functions to convey complex social and religious meanings—a concept occurring today in a myriad of contexts, as the Internet penetrates deeper into our communal experience. Gonkar Gyatso considers just such media in his construction Dissected Buddha, which draws from fragments of pop culture, mass media, and advertising in a way that appeals to a broad audience and breaks down both language and geographic boundaries.
As mentioned in a previous post, I conducted two survey trips in preparation for the exhibition Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations (on view through June 8), which focuses on eleventh- and twelfth-century connections and interactions between the Buddhist communities of Tibet and India. My trip to central Tibet in September 2010 allowed me to visit and study many of the extant Buddhist monasteries there, and to survey the wall painting preserved in monastic sacred structures.
Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
A rapidly evolving contemporary art movement has emerged both in Tibet and across the world in conjunction with the Tibetan diaspora, offering a wide range of perspectives on Buddhism and modern Buddhist practice. Two contemporary Tibetan artists currently featured in the exhibition Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations, Tenzing Rigdol and Gonkar Gyatso, both address Buddhist themes, but their intended audiences are global in scope, and their works are primarily vehicles of artistic expression and vision rather than objects of devotion. Nonetheless, merely presenting a Buddha or bodhisattva in a work of art charges it with a certain meaning, regardless of artistic intent. Buddhist ideas, traditional texts, and the current monastic tradition ground these images historically in a religious context, even if a contemporary viewer might not necessarily read them as "Buddhist art."
Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Last year, in preparation for the exhibition Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations (on view through June 8), I traveled to India to see about a dozen major museum collections. (In 2010 I conducted a similar survey in Tibet, which will be the subject of my next post.) While I was in India I also had the opportunity to study many of the major tenth- to twelfth-century Buddhist sites in the northern part of the country—sites made sacred by the actions of the Buddha. I spent most of my time in Bihar, but I also visited Buddhist centers in Odisha on the east coast.
Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
At the end of the fifth century, the great Buddhist centers of Gandhara in Northern Pakistan collapsed in the wake of Hun invasions that swept in from the area north of Afghanistan. The current exhibition Buddhism along the Silk Road: 5th–8th Century (on view through February 10, 2013) focuses on art produced as a result of contact with the dispersed Gandharan Buddhist communities, who were moving into Afghanistan and up into the Western parts of Central Asia.
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