Masterworks, a regularly changing exhibition at the Rubin, explores major strands in the development of Himalayan art, covering a period of over one thousand years, and presents regional artistic traditions in their broad cultural, geographic, historical, and stylistic contexts. The 2019 iteration of this exhibition draws primarily from the Rubin collection and is augmented by a few select long-term loans.
Masterworks is organized geographically, showcasing the diverse regional traditions of western Tibet, central Tibet, eastern Tibet, and Bhutan in relation to the neighboring areas of Eastern India, Kashmir, Nepal, China, and Mongolia. Highlights from the exhibition include:
● An elegant 12th-century Lotus Mandala from northeastern India which resembles a flower, with mechanical hinges that allow the petals to open, revealing the central deity surrounded by eight dancing yoginis.
●Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, a powerful 13th-century Nepalese depiction of the goddess at the climactic moment of her victory, one of the great sculptural treasures of the Rubin Museum.
● An elegant 17th-century Tibetan gilt-bronze sculpture of a yogini, the female tantric deity Nairatmya, or “Goddess Without Self,” recently gifted to the Museum.
● A dramatic, 5-foot-wide Eastern Tibetan painting of the goddess Tara Saving from the Eight Fears, a one stop for protection, long life, and good fortune.
● A fantastical Mongolian woodcarving of the Skull Palace of the fierce protector and god of war, Begtse Chen, constructed almost entirely from skeletons and pinnacles of skulls.