Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Sculpture

Stenciled ceiling in the third floor Indian sculpture galleries at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. The painted beams were recreated from original designs that existed in this space under its first incarnation as the San Francisco Public Library. After the 1989 earthquake the building was declared uninhabitable. The public library eventually got a new building next door. The Asian Art Museum raised $160 million in contributions to restore this building and create the gorgeous museum we now have and in the process the architect, Gae Aulenti, took care to respect and commemorate the building's origins.

Chinese stone lion supporting the throne of a divinity.

Southeast Asian figure protected by remarkably friendly-looking cobras.

Ganesha, from India, enjoying the diffused San Francisco daylight at the top of the steel and glass escalator extension Aulenti introduced.

Gandhara statue from Northern India, with European-looking features. There has been speculation that the conquests of Alexander the Great, which reached to India, may have influenced this school.

Carved-stone burial vessel from the Philippines. One of my Filipino friends laments that this art object is one  of the few from the Philippines to be seen at the museum. He dislikes this burial vessel, says it is crude, and wishes it had more of the polish of Japanese art. We have had this discussion about six times, and I always express the opinion that this powerful presence carved with rough tools in rough stone is definitely the one single work of art that Picasso would have liked above everything else at the Asian Art Museum. My friend remains unconvinced.