Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection showcases the best of Himalayan art in the Rubin Museum's collection in their international context. This new presentation provides access to old favorites and new acquisitions and gifts. Organized geographically, it sets the diverse regional traditions of West Tibet, Central Tibet, East Tibet and Bhutan in relation to the neighboring areas of India, Kashmir, Nepal, China, and Mongolia. Highlights include a Chinese clay image of the guardian king Virupaksha.
Other highlights in the exhibition include a 12th century lotus mandala of Hevajra from Northeastern India, a historically extremely important drawing with the footprints of the founder of a major Tibetan Buddhist School predating 1217, a dated bilingual silk edict from the court of the 5th Dalai Lama, and a contemporaneous portrait of this important Dalai Lama incarnation in gold on red background. Dynamic wrathful deities range from the fifteenth-century snake-bodied personification of the eclipse, Rahula, to the extremely fierce Bhutanese representation of the protective goddess Dusolma.
Life-size facsimiles of an entire sequence of murals from the Lukhang, the Dalai Lamas’ Secret Temple near the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, provide an exceptional opportunity for viewing Himalayan art at its most lavish and remain part of the Masterworks exhibition. The original 18th century wall paintings—inaccessible to the public until the late 20th century—uniquely depict the most esoteric of meditation and yoga practices in vivid color and detail. Created with new photographic methods by Thomas Laird and Clint Clemens, this display of large-format, high resolution pigment prints allows for even better access to the paintings than is possible in the temple itself. Their presentation at the Rubin marks the first showing in the world of prints created using this technology, and also provides the first ever opportunity outside Tibet to view life-size Tibetan murals in their relationship to portable art from the region.