Due to their sensitivity to light and climate, we rotate Asian paintings and textiles in our permanent collection roughly every six months. The current installation, on view until May 2023, highlights four early Tibetan paintings, including a newly acquired and recently conserved 16th-century mandala dedicated to the Buddhist protector Sitatapatra. Storytelling is the focus of the West and South Asian rotations. Shown together for the first time are several pages from the Majma’ al-Tawarikh (Assembly of Histories), an early 15th-century account of world history since the time of Adam that was composed at the Timurid court in Herat, Afghanistan. Oft-Told Tales explores the spatial effects and bright colors used to heighten the drama and emotion of narratives illustrated in the famed 11th-century Iranian Shahnama (Book of Kings) as well as in Indic classics, such as the Bhagavata Purana (History of the Lord) and the Gita Govinda (Song of Govinda). Captured Moments: Time in Chinese Painting presents the multifaceted approaches to time embedded in Chinese paintings, for example through references to the physical movement of the brush itself or through the tradition of adding inscriptions to artworks as marks of ownership and appreciation years after they were produced. Meanwhile, a selection of Japanese paintings, woodblock prints, and other works illustrates the seminal role of setsugekka, literally “snow, moon, and flowers.” This concept, which evokes the nostalgia inherent in the passage of time and the changing of the seasons, is deeply embedded in Japanese culture.
Denise Patry Leidy
The Ruth and Bruce Dayton Curator of Asian Art