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Kurt Behrendt

Kurt Behrendt is an associate curator in the Department of Asian Art.

Met Museum Presents Blog

Reflecting on Gods and Goddesses

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The three-part Gods and Goddesses lecture series, which concluded on September 30, attempted to broadly address the multifaceted deities of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain religions—faiths that are at the foundation of South Asia's great sculptural tradition. The first lecture began with Buddhism, tracing its image-making tradition that emerged to give manifest form to the Buddha's enlightened relics. Over time it continued to reflect developments within the Buddhist tradition, with the imagery becoming more complex as artists strove to represent subtle aspects of ideology.

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Now at the Met

Journeys to Divinity: A Preview

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.

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Now at the Met

Toward Transcendent Enlightenment: Buddhist Sites in Central Tibet

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014

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.

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Now at the Met

Tibetan Buddhist Art in the Twenty-First Century

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

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."

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Now at the Met

In the Footsteps of Buddhist Pilgrims: Sites in North India

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian 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.

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Travel Blog

Bhutan: Taktsang Monastery

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013

In Bhutan, outside of Paro, our group climbed up the rocky cliffs to visit the Taktsang monastery. Popularly known as the "Tiger's Nest," the monastery was first built in 1692 around a cave where the great Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) meditated for three years.

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Travel Blog

Nepal: Swayambhunath Stupa

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On our first day in Nepal we visited the Swayambhunath Stupa, a monument that, while founded in the fifth century to house the relics of the Buddha, has since undergone many restorations funded by the devout.

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Now at the Met

Buddhism along the Silk Road

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

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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