Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan
Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan makes its way from Smithsonian to San Diego
San Diego prepares for return of Museum-owned works from Traveling Exhibition
San Diego, Calif- The San Diego Museum of Artis pleased to be the only West Coast venuefor the exhibition Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan from February 18 through May 27, 2012.Featuring 14 objects from Xiangtangshan (pronounced "shahng-tahng-shahn") and three related Northern Qi works of art, the exhibition traces the historical origins and tragic destruction of one of the earliest and most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in China. Visitors to the exhibition will experience an immersive digital recreation of the caves. Introduced at the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, the exhibition was then on view at the co-organizing Institution, the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Museum earlier this year, and will close after its final stop in San Diego.
Combining ancient objects from Xiangtangshan with innovative digital components, including a video installation that provides a kinetic projection of one of the largest stone temples, touch screens, and interactive research kiosks, visitors are able to digitally envision the caves as they appeared before their destruction more than a century ago.
Carved into the mountains of northern China, the Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan were the crowning cultural achievement of the 6th-century Northern Qi dynasty (550–77 CE). Once home to a magnificent array of sculptures -- monumental Buddhas, divine attendant figures, and crouching monsters framed by floral motifs -- the limestone caves were severely damaged in the first half of the 20th century, and many of the sculptures made their way into western collections. During the past six years the caves have become the focus of a research and reconstruction projectbased at the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago. Combining cutting-edge 3-D imaging technology with old-fashioned scholarly work, an international team of experts has photographed and scanned the dispersed objects as well as the interior of the caves themselves in order to identify the places in the cluster of cave temples to which the sculptures originally belonged. A film that runs as part of the exhibition shows how the site continues to be an important focus for Buddhists and pilgrims in China today.
Echoes of the Past takes place at the same time as the beautiful collection of textile art of Kuboku and Hisaki Takaku, Dyeing Elegance: Asian Modernism and the Art of Kuboku and Hisako Takaku.
Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan is organized by the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago and by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Major funding is provided by the Leon Levy Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional curatorial support for the exhibition’s presentation in San Diego has been provided by Sonya Quintanilla, Project Curator, and Julia Marciari-Alexander, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at The San Diego Museum of Art.
The Xiangtangshan sculptures on view at The San Diego Museum of Art are on loan from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Sackler Collections at Columbia University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
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The San Diego Museum of Art provides a rich and diverse cultural experience for 350,000 visitors annually. Located in the heart of beautiful Balboa Park, the Museum’s nationally renowned collections include Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings, and 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculptures. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.