Filed under: Art
A museum is not the best place to view religious art. To get the full import of images with profound religious meaning you need music, chanting, incense, no buzz from the outside world. Museums by their very nature can't reproduce the ambiance of a monastery or a cathedral, but they can gather materials you might never have the chance to see elsewhere. The Rubin Museum's new show Embodying the Holy presents two distinct religious traditions, Eastern Orthodox and Tibetan Buddhist, in the most reverential manner possible in a museum in the heart of New York City.
To contrast the Eastern and Western traditions in subject matter, story telling, and iconography, the Rubin Museum curators have selected Orthodox icons, crucifixes, and paintings and juxtaposed them with Buddhist religuaries and thangkas, cloth scroll paintings used in Tibetan monasteries and family altars. As you walk through the exhibition, be sure to listen to the audio guide which contrasts and compares how the two traditions treat similar themes and concepts -- the battle of good versus evil, the notion of heaven and hell, miracles, visions, universal symbols among others. The similarities are a surprise, especially for those unfamiliar with either tradition.