|Rubin Museum Interior|
The Rubin Museum of Art (of the Himalayas)
New York City
150 17th st. New York, NY.
I am a big, big fan of museums. Everything about museums. And although I would say New York City is only the third best city for Museum-going in the world (Paris, London)- New York City has still got an amazing number of museums.
Staying in Greenwich Village I decided to choose my museum visits by proximity. The Rubin Museum is located between NYU and Chelsea. Housed in an ex Bloomingdale's ladies store, The Rubin Museum specializes in the art of the Himalayan region. A more accurate description would probably be "Tibetan Art Etc." but I'll stick with their preferred nomenclature.
Unbelievably the permanent collection was closed for my visit- the museum-goers equivalent to flying to NYC for a Broadway show and finding out that the understudy is playing the lead instead of the Hollywood star you came to see. However, I'm just going to assume, based on the quality of what I did see that the permanent collection is amazing- because everything else was.
|Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68323).|
I don't fancy myself an expert in the area of Tibetan art, but I've been to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco a good half dozen times and could do ten minutes of party material on the wonders of Tibetan art- namely tons of scary looking demons derived from the Tantric Buddhist tradition and elaborate, detailed wall paintings of Buddhist themes and personages.
My visit to the Rubin Museum of Art expanded that thin familiarity with two excellent exhibits: Casting The Divine- a collection of 104 miniature sculptures Nyingjei Lam Collection. The sculptures were quite a revelation- demonstrating a level of sophistication and quality that equalled any comparable European work from the same time period. The subject matter is repetitive- Buddha/High Level Monk/Wandering Holy Man- though there were some interesting subjects- like a real-life famous wandering Ascetic who was depicted with dense curly hair that reflected his south Indian upbringing.
Certainly these exquisite sculptures were something I had never seen before and I was impressed.
The other interesting exhibit was The Place of Provenance- about regional variation of Tibetan painting. Again- the subject matter was repetitive- you can tell the difference in regions by the way they paint the clouds- but the workmanship was really high quality.
And while the Rubin Museum didn't alert me to the existence of high level Tibetan Art Products, it did expand my knowledge of the kinds and varieties of artifacts and their high level of quality. It's worth a stop if you are in the area- though fyi it costs ten bucks to get in. The Permanent Collection re-opens the first week of February 2013.