Friday, January 23, 2009

Buddha, Picasso, and Mini-Muffins

Today I puttered down to the Art Institute to mark my day off with something interesting. It is currently under construction so many galleries are closed. This got me off my familiar beaten path and looking at things in new light.

I first wandered through an exhibit of the photography of Yousuf Karsh. He took portraits of many famous people and the gallery was full of recognizable faces, like Clark Gable, Queen Elizabeth II, and Kurt Vonnegut. What was much more interesting were the faces of people I knew, but wouldn't recognize.

Carl Sandburg

Pablo Picasso, 1954

There were several others that I wanted to capture, but I got yelled at for taking pictures.

Wandering around the rest of the museum, avoiding the droves of children on field trips, I ended up tracing the changes in the presentations of Buddha as Buddhism traveled from India to China to North Korea and Japan.

On the left are depictions of the life of Buddha from India in the 10th century. In India, it seemed Buddha depictions referred to one entity.

Below is a seated Bosatsu from Japan. A Bosatsu is just below a fully enlightened Buddha and acted as an intermediary. Seems a little more complicated.

Further into the Asian exhibits I found all sorts of different complications in figures that appeared to me as just Buddha symbols. Pictured below is a Bodhisattva, which is a merciful deity that helps to guide men to salvation. They are portrayed as more humanistic, reachable and less formal than the Buddha would be. See how the hand is open and the left foot is reaching down from the pedestal? There you have it. More humanistic.

The last "Buddha" picture is actually of a Kannon from Japan during the Kamakura period around 1300. A Kannon is a bodhisattva of compassion. Though I think this one looks a little bored, they are supposed to be eager to help mankind!

I wandered around the rest of the museum, bought a coloring book and some postcards, and came home to make some cherry-orange corn muffins to get me through the weekend of dropping temperatures we're facing. Stay warm!

In other news: Magpies join the elite group of animals that can recognize their own reflection; People actually feel colder when they're lonely and lonelier when they're colder; And winter just isn't over YET.

1 comment:

Tim Faith said...

I like seeing all the fulfilling things you do on your free time. It really makes me see myself as lazy. haha. Awesome!