Sunday, July 21, 2019


By Gregory & Ernest Disney-Britton
A Subtle Reminder, 2018–2019 Oil on canvas, 48 x 38 inches
We’re back from our fantasy island trip in Key West, to finally discover the big news of the solo show, “Tahiti: Kehinde Wiley” in Paris. It’s Kehinde Wiley’s response to Paul Gaugin’s fantasy island escape to Tahiti, and his erotic depictions of their trans women known as Māhū spiritual leaders  (See  “Pape Moe"). Gauguin knew Tahiti was right for him, but he painted for Christian colonizers, and Kehinde delves more deeply into Gaugin’s fantasy. That’s why “Portrait of Moerai Matuanui” makes Kehinde Wiley, our artist of the week... again.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Radical Realist View of Tibetan Buddhism at the Rubin

By Ian Johnson
Kingdom of Shambhala and the Final Battle, Mongolia, nineteenth century
One of the hallmarks of the past few decades has been the rise of religious-based nationalism in, for example, India, the United States, and the Middle East. And it has become routine in discussing these areas to make a link between politics and religion—be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam. Buddhism, though, continues to flummox us. For many, Buddhism is “a religion of peace” and its adaptation for political purposes, even to inspire violence, feels flat-out wrong. That makes the current exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art, “Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism,” an especially welcome landmark, the first in-depth exploration of the topic. [More]

Friday, July 19, 2019

British Museum to return Buddhist heads looted in Afghan war

By Mark Brown
The fourth-century sculptural heads were discovered stuffed in wooden crates at Heathrow airport in 2002. Photograph: Trustees of the British Museum
Fourth-century Buddhist terracotta heads probably hacked off by the Taliban and found stuffed in poorly made wooden crates at Heathrow are to be returned to Afghanistan where they will be star museum exhibits. The British Museum gave details on Monday of one of the most significant repatriation cases it has dealt with relating to the illegal looting of artefacts from Afghanistan and Iraq. Nine sculptural heads and a torso were intercepted at Heathrow in 2002 after a flight from Peshawar in Pakistan. After a long legal process, they were sent to the British Museum last year to be analysed, conserved and catalogued. [More]