The collection of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum—more than 35,000 objects, ranging in date from the third millennium B.C. to the twenty-first century—is one of the largest and is the most comprehensive in the West. Each of the many civilizations of Asia is represented by outstanding works, providing an unrivaled experience of the artistic traditions of nearly half the world.
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015
This beautiful image of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara holds a lotus as his principal attribute (fig. 1). On view in the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, the gilded figure and its lotus-inspired pedestal are made of a single block of sandalwood, a wood species that holds spiritual meaning throughout Asia. The exceptional carving found here is a rare surviving example of a Nepalese tradition with a long history, one which ultimately can be traced back to India.
Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015
A gift to the Museum in 1949, this image of Vajrabhairava was not placed on display for many years (fig. 1). In conjunction with the work's display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, however, the Departments of Objects Conservation and Scientific Research examined this figure in order to shed light on the materials and the production technique of this unusual representation.
Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015
In the course of conserving a group of twenty-five Tibetan initiation cards currently on view in Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, the second phase of treatment—performed after media consolidation—concerned compensating losses. All of the cards were damaged along their top edges from a combination of mold deterioration of the multilayered support and the handling received during their past lives as functional objects. While some of the cards were only missing parts of the top red margins, others had losses that extended well into the image area.
Posted: Monday, January 5, 2015
In 2000, The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired a complete set of twenty-five early fifteenth-century Tibetan initiation cards (tsakalis), which are currently on display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, on view through June 14, 2015. When these cards were received, the majority of them showed noteworthy damage which was most easily visible along the top edges of the cards. Under microscopic examination, however, it became apparent that the delicate paint layer—composed primarily of natural pigments in a natural gum binder—was also markedly damaged and, in some areas, detaching from the paper support. In the magnified image shown below, the fibrous paper support can be seen under the cracked and lifting paint layer.
Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014
The exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, opening tomorrow, explores Buddhist devotional practices across the vast Himalayan region from the thirteenth through the early twentieth century. These practices included ceremonial dance and musical performance, both important dimensions of Buddhist ritual that unified this vast region, which includes Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia.
Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
In October the Studio Workshop event Silk Painting: Kimono-Inspired Designs explored the rich motifs and exciting compositional choices inspired by works from the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, currently on view through January 19. Students practiced a variety of silk application methods, including paste resist, block printing, and free-hand painting.
Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014
It's taken me years to admit, but I have an addiction to all things Japanese. At the impressionable age of five, my father showed me my first Godzilla movie; several King Ghidorah action figures, three hundred Pokémon cards, and fourteen Studio Ghibli films later, I've not only converted my calculus notebook into a journal in which I try to memorize Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, but I've come to terms with the extent of my obsession. As a result, it was practically inevitable that I found myself roaming through the Met's exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, on view through January 19, 2015. Featuring a range of kimonos from the eighteenth century to the present day, it fed right into my interests.
Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Posted: Friday, November 21, 2014
The last time I was wandering around the Met, I heard four successive "Wows!" exclaimed by awestruck museumgoers as they entered gallery 206, the entrance to the Asian Art galleries. This comes as no surprise to me, as the impressive thirteen-foot-high statue of the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva that sits in the gallery is stunningly amazing. The entire gallery is quite remarkable. However, what I feel is truly amazing about this part of the Museum is the immediate quietness and tranquility one encounters when they walk up the steps into the smaller galleries that make up the wing.
Posted: Monday, November 17, 2014
The Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts a collection of almost one thousand netsuke, with a particular emphasis on works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to the selection currently displayed in the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, on view September 27, 2014–January 19, 2015, daily netsuke posts can also be seen on the Museum's Twitter account throughout the month of November as part of the campaign #NetsukeNovember.