India focus art exhibitions in New York

New York, October 16, 2004

Two shows of collections of Indian art presented at the Asia Society and Museum this fall are part of its special initiative to present the past, present and future of India.

'In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India - Selections from the Polsky Collections and The Metropolitan Museum of Art' and 'When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection' showcase more than 200 works of traditional Indian art, most of which are being exhibited to the public for the first time.

The exhibitions belong to collectors Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Susan L. Beningson and are the result of committed involvement with museums and cultural institutions throughout the US and Asia and a deep passion for Indian art.

To the collectors, Indian art -- with its extensive history rooted in mythology and religion -- provides insights into a culture where the past and present, and the mortal and the divine are inextricably linked.

"My first glimpse of India was in the pages of a small book about Indian arts and crafts given to me by a family friend when I was eight or so years old," writes Cynthia Polsky in a catalogue of 'Gods and Kings'.

"My husband Lee and I have been fortunate to spend time in India travelling with family and friends who share our fascination with the region and its extraordinary culture."

"The works in both 'In the Realm of Gods and Kings' and 'When Gold Blossoms' are rich in a wide range of geographic idioms and techniques while being unmistakably Indian," said Asia Society museum director Melissa Chiu.

"Both exhibitions, amassed by collectors with discerning eyes, represent and illuminate very appealing dimensions of Indian culture."

'Gods and Kings' has more than 75 works ranging from the second century BC to the early 20th century and includes paintings, decorative objects, sculpture and photography. The majority of the works come from the court arts of northern India.

'When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection' is a set of 150 pieces from the 17th through 19th century mainly from southern India.

The jewellery would be displayed at the Asia Society till Jan 23.

'When Gold Blossoms' refers to the strong preference for gold in south Indian jewellery. The title is also a reference to the nature-inspired designs found on the jewellery -- from ear studs shaped like a lotus to armbands featuring petal and leaf weaving.

Incorporating jewellery worn in daily life and those at Hindu temples, the collection includes rings, anklets, earrings, crowns and pendants.