September 8, 2016

Indian Paintings Embarks on Nationwide Tour

The San Diego Museum of Art’s Collection of Indian Paintings Embarks on Nationwide Tour in Major New Exhibition

San Diego – The San Diego Museum of Art will premiere 91 works of art from its world-renowned Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings in an exhibition titled Epic Tales from Ancient India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art at the Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, N.J. This is the first stop for this landmark exhibition, where it will be on view November 19, 2016 through February 5, 2017.

Epic Tales from Ancient India will introduce viewers to the world of South Asian paintings and their original narrative context by explaining the classics of literature that they illustrate. The exhibition will feature four sections arranged by book or literary category, and will represent the major schools of South Asian painting from the 16th through the 19th century. The stories include the Bhagavata Purana, a Sanskrit text about the Hindu god Vishnu and his different incarnations; the Ramayana, recounting the adventures of Prince Rama of Ayodhya; the Ragamala, verses illustrating musical melodies; and works of Persian literature, including the Shahnama, a poem about the legendary kings of Iran.

“Indian paintings are typically admired as individual works of art, but viewing them this way reveals only part of their story,” says Marika Sardar, Associate Curator of Southern Asian and Islamic Art at The San Diego Museum of Art, who curated the exhibition. “Most of the paintings come from books and were intended to accompany text. This exhibition explores these paintings as part of larger narratives, and provides the tools for reading and understanding Indian painting.”

The San Diego Museum of Art’s Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings was assembled by Edwin Binney 3rd (1925–1986), an heir to the Crayola fortune. It consists of more than 1,400 works of art created during the 12th through 19th centuries at the Mughal, Deccani, Rajasthani and Pahari courts. The collection came to the museum in 1990, and is considered one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of South Asian paintings outside of India.

“The Binney Collection is an international treasure, and it is an honor to see it travel to esteemed academic art institutions such as the Princeton University Art Museum,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director of The San Diego Museum of Art. “Epic Tales from Ancient India presents the paintings in their original context, and we’re thrilled to continue to share these works with art enthusiasts around the world.”

A 150-page catalogue, edited by Sardar, accompanies the exhibition. It will include essays on book production in South Asia and the history of illustrating each of the texts in the exhibition. Sardar will also participate in a lecture on November 19 at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Epic Tales from Ancient India will subsequently travel to Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin from July 9, 2017 to October 15, 2017, and will then return to The San Diego Museum of Art, where it will be on view from March 3, 2018 through June 12, 2018.

Exhibitions of works from the Binney Collection have previously been on display in prestigious institutions around the world.  Most recently, the exhibition Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art traveled to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Paintings from the collection have also been shown in many major exhibitions of Indian art at institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Musée Guimet in Paris.