NYC Exhibit: Celestial Deities: Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture Ca. 500-1100 CE


Chinese Standing Buddha, 550-577CE. Limestone Shandong Provence Northern Qi, 74 inches. Photo: Throckmorton Fine Art.

NEW YORK, NY.- To coincide with Asia Week in March, 2014,  Throckmorton Fine Art is presenting a special exhibition titled, “ Celestial Deities: Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture CA 500 – 1100 CE”.  A detailed catalogue has been published to accompany this New York show which will remain on view through April 26th.

According to Spencer Throckmorton, “The thirty-one Early Buddhist Sculptures are rare survivors of Buddhist purges in the past; many were buried for centuries. They have been carefully cleaned, revealing their sublime beauty and refined elegance. Each piece has been carefully studied by Chinese scholars, with photographs and analyses included in an accompanying catalogue prepared under the guidance of Dr. Qing Chang and Dr. Elizabeth Childs-Johnson.

“This monumental group, collected over the past twelve years, suggests the diversity of Chinese Buddhist sculptures from the Northern Wei through the Tang and Song eras, and thus from the sixth through the twelfth centuries.  All of the pieces attest to the patience and skill of Chinese artisans. The scale of the figures varies – many are monumental, others more intimate.

The material employed includes limestone, sandstone, and white marble. Marble images are particularly important in Buddhist sculpture as marble was known as “white stone,” with white symbolizing the color of purity, and as a consequence was held to be precious and favored for imperial Buddhist rituals. The exhibition features outstanding examples of marble Buddhist figures.”

Other notable images include a sandstone Buddha seated on a lotus supported by a cylinder of winged horses. Taken together, the sculptures in the exhibit allow for a comparison of the changing portrayal of Buddhism, and Buddhist deities, in Chinese culture.

One example is the evolution of the bodhisattva’s tiara-style crown. What begins as a simple three-pronged lotus of the sixth century becomes a flamboyant multi-tiered and multi-layered crown by the twelfth century. Spencer Throckmorton adds that, “Individually and collectively, the Buddhist sculptures transcend time and belief systems; they radiate peace and harmony, and invite contemplation.

This exhibit is not to be missed – it is unlikely to ever be matched in quality and depth.” For 25 years, gallery founder Spencer Throckmorton has pursued a long held interest in pre-Columbian art, Chinese jades, Asian sculpture and Latin American photography.

Throckmorton has continually staged important exhibitions and published numerous publications on those subjects. Throckmorton Fine Art has also specialized in both vintage and contemporary photography of the Americas, with a primary focus on Latin American talents. The gallery has featured the work of Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Martin Chambi, Lucien Clergue, Ruven Afanador, Marilyn Bridges, Graciela Iturbide, Flor Garduno, Mario Algaze, Javier Silva-Meinel, Valdir Cruz, and Christian Cravo.



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