August 14, 2009 - January 11, 2010
The mandala, one of Himalayan Buddhism's most ubiquitous symbols, is created as an artistic aid for meditation. Depicting a realm that is both complex and sacred, the mandala is a visualization tool meant to advance practitioners toward a state of enlightenment.
Mandala: The Perfect Circle explores the various manifestations of these objects, simultaneously explaining their symbolism, describing how they fulfill their intended function, and demonstrating their correlation to our physical reality. An important part of the exhibition is the focus on the complex symbolism of the number five, which plays an important role in Tantric Buddhism. This pentarchy is found in the spatial references of the five directions (the four cardinal points and the center), the five elements, the five colors, the five aggregates, the five wisdoms, and the five Transcendent (Tathagata) Buddhas. The exhibition also displays different types of mandalas, including paintings, three-dimensional works, portable mandalas, and ritual objects that are related to mandala ceremonies.
While many of the paintings in this exhibition are from the collection of the Rubin Museum, the show also includes masterpieces from other museums and private collections from around the world, including the Musée Guimet (Paris), Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Pacific Asia Museum (Pasadena), and Metropolitan Museum (New York).
Recently created virtual mandalas made by computer graphic designers show the creation of a sand mandala and demonstrate the three-dimensionality, fragility and transparency of the mandala (productions by Cornell University, Zurich University, and others).
Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism
With contributions by Karl Debrecseny, Amy Heller, Edward Henning, Christian Luczanits, Ariana Maki, Marylin Rhie, Michael R Sheehy, and Jeff Watt
The mandala depicts a sacred and complex realm. Its most recurrent graphic form is a circle, or a circle in a square. The word mandala means both center and circumference. Mandalas are created as a model for visualization practice as an aid to mediation, enabling an initiate to advance toward a state of enlightenment.
The Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism, by Martin Brauen, is an updated edition of his acclaimed volume, first published in 1992. The book, and its related exhibition, Mandala: The Perfect Circle at the Rubin Museum of Art from August 14, 2009 through January 11, 2010, explore the various manifestations of the mandala while simultaneously explaining its symbolism, the means by which it fulfills its function, and its correlation with our physical reality. An important part of the book and the exhibition focus on the complex symbolism of the number five, which plays an critical role in Tantric Buddhism. This pentarchy is found in the spatial references of the five directions (the four cardinal points plus the center): the five elements, the five colors, the five aggregates, the five wisdoms, and the five Tathagata Buddhas, or transcendent Buddhas. Illustrations include different kinds of mandalas--paintings, three-dimensional works, and ritual objects related to mandala ceremonies and drawn from the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art as well as museum and private collections worldwide. Also illustrated is a mandala ritual with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama presiding as master.
In his concluding chapter, Brauen reflects on the mandala and its relationship to Western philosophy, especially in the work and writings of the renowned Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung.
Member Price: $63.00
Publishers: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart, and Rubin Museum of Art, New York
Published: August 2009
Mandala Programs and Events
Cabaret Cinema: Walls Are Doors
A collection of classic films that explore mazes, keys, and passwords as metaphors for the labyrinthine puzzles of our existence.
The Living Mandala Experience
Under the guidance of the Nyingmapa lama Khenchen Tsewang Gyamtso Rinpoche, participants will have the chance to step into a painting as they follow the tantric meditation initiation of traveling through a mandala.
RMA Math Trail
Developed by Math for America, this problem-solving scavenger hunt sends math enthusiasts on a tour of Chelsea inspired by the geometric construction of the mandala.
Harlem in the Himalayas: The Jon Batiste Band
The jazz pianist returns with sixteen musicians and a new composition based on the geometry of the mandala.
Harlem in the Himalayas: Fred Hersch
The renowned jazz pianist performs a solo concert inspired by the mandala.
The Mandala Concert
A concert featuring the work of composer/conductor Joel Thome, who uses mandala forms as musical notation, and visual artist Harry Doolittle.
The Mandalas of C.G. Jung
C.G. Jung scholar Sonu Shamdasani discusses Jung's vision of the universe with RMA Chief Curator Martin Brauen.
Reflections: A Musical Mandala
Violinist Gil Morgenstern performs a concert inspired by the mandala, featuring the music of Bach, Schumann, Ysaye, Bartok, Barkauskas, Villa-Lobos, and Kreisler.