Foreword & Acknowledgements
Reflections of the Buddha celebrates the tenth anniversary of The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. With the opening of its building by Tadao Andō in 2001, the Pulitzer initiated a series of exhibitions and programs intended to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the arts and architecture. With the building in mind, curators have conceived of exhibitions, carefully selected works of art from national and international collections, and thoughtfully displayed them in our galleries. The desire to create an aesthetically stimulating spatial experience corresponds with Andō’s own thoughts about designing the Pulitzer through simple geometric forms and controlled natural elements:
The proportions of the spaces as well as the openings of the volumes produce a place where new possibilities may be stimulated and accommodated . . . The natural light reflected from the pool heightens sensitivity to the variation of sunlight, cloud movements, and seasons. Even in a raw urban site, I wanted to create a space for the contemplation of art and the cultivation of the spirit.
For the past decade, Andō’s aspirations have guided us, and our visitors have often remarked that they have found the experience of walking through the Pulitzer and looking at the art both contemplative and transcendent. Andō’s appeal for the cultivation of the spirit informs not only Pulitzer exhibitions but also our public programming and innovative community outreach, all of which continue the Pulitzer family’s long-standing commitment to St. Louis.
For Reflections of the Buddha, the Pulitzer’s senior curator, Francesca Herndon-Consagra, has excelled in bringing together a small number of exceptionally beautiful and important works of Buddhist art. Her essay in this catalogue explores how Andō’s philosophy of architecture is partially influenced by Japanese Buddhism. Yet the works in this exhibition are not just Japanese or from one particular period. Rather, they cross many geographic and temporal boundaries, creating an experience that ties the building and the art together simply through a connection with a Buddhist philosophy that is more than 2,500 years old. By aligning this pan-Asian exhibition with Andō’s own philosophy about space, Reflections of the Buddha thus moves away from a traditional museum concept of producing visual didactic narratives and toward one that is more metaphysical and experiential.
We at the Pulitzer believe that our exhibitions should strive to touch the human spirit, which is the wellspring of inquiry and human discourse. Accordingly, we have supported several exhibition-related curatorial initiatives as a way to nurture greater dialogue about the works of art in Reflections of the Buddha. These include symposia, graduate research fellowships at Harvard Art Museums, and the material testing of and scholarly publication on Harvard’s Left Hand of a Colossal Buddha Amitâbha (Amida Nyōrai). Other initiatives include conserving an important thangka from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and providing travel funds for curators to learn more about works in the exhibition from their own collections.
All of us at the Pulitzer have relied upon the generosity of many friends and colleagues to bring this exhibition of Buddhist art to fruition. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Walter C. Sedgwick, Sylvan Barnet and William Burto, and one anonymous lender. From Harvard Art Museums, the Pulitzer’s privileged partner and the major lender to the exhibition, we would like to thank Thomas Lentz, Robert Mowry, Henry Lie, Anne Driesse, Penley Knipe, and Melissa Moy. From the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, we are indebted to Julián Zugazagoitia, Kimberly Masteller, Colin Mackenzie, Elisabeth Batchelor, Kate Garland, and Chris Holle. We also acknowledge with gratitude Brent Benjamin, Philip Hu, Laura Gorman, and Nancy Heugh from the Saint Louis Art Museum; Melissa Chiu and Adriana Proser from Asia Society, New York; Kaywin Feldman, Matthew Welch, Robert Jacobsen, and Robin Cotton from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We are greatly appreciative of Hiroshi Sugimoto. We would also like to thank Oscar Muñoz, as well as Marīa Ines Sicardi and Allison Ayers of the Sicardi Gallery. Many other people offered their assistance and knowledge to the project including Victoria Blyth-Hill, Beata Grant, Danielle Hanrahan, Denise Patry Leidy, Yukio Lippit, Karen Lucic, Nadine Orenstein, Gregg Stanger, Christine Starkman, and Kulapat Yantrasast.
A specialist in Baroque prints, Francesca learned a great deal from her aforementioned colleagues, and especially from Robert Mowry, the Alan J. Dworsky Curator of Chinese Art and Head of the Department of Asian Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, who generously donated his time and expertise to the project. Bob visited important collections of Buddhist art with Francesca and advised her in selecting the most important and beautiful works available for loan. He not only kindly supported the loan of some of the most significant pieces from his own collections but also guided and oversaw the research on these very works conducted by the Pulitzer’s graduate research fellows at the Harvard Art Museums, Phillip Bloom and Katherine Brooks, who are Ph.D. candidates in the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. Bob introduced them to the rewards of conducting intensive object research in the complex, intricate, and frequently abstruse field of Buddhist art. We are grateful to them for providing new insights that have already altered the way we think about these objects. Their well-researched entries for the Harvard works in the exhibition can be found within the exhibition section of this website.
Symposia at the Pulitzer have long emphasized the interchange of ideas among participants. Instead of presenting papers, participants share openly their observations about the works and their display in Andō’s spaces. Phillip Bloom organized a symposium at the Pulitzer in November 2011, bringing together professors and graduate students interested in Buddhist art from the University of California, Berkeley; Duke University; Harvard University; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Kansas; University of Washington; and Virginia Commonwealth University. A second symposium in February 2012 will offer the opportunity for curators and conservators from the lending institutions, along with conservation scientists and other specialists in the field, to learn more about the exhibited works and to discuss their future care and display.
We would also like to acknowledge and thank The Korea Foundation for inviting Francesca to join an important two-week workshop on Buddhist art in Korea in the fall of 2010. This workshop offered her the opportunity to meet important scholars from around the world and to visit collections of Buddhist art as well as numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. These experiences not only influenced the way she approached the Korean works in the exhibition, they also helped her gain a better appreciation for the ritual context of Buddhist art.
Since 2004, David Robertson, artistic director of the St. Louis Symphony, has prepared a series of notable chamber music concerts at the Pulitzer. For Reflections of the Buddha, compositions by Western composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (including Jonathan Harvey, John Cage, and Morton Feldman) connect to Buddhist themes and explore the unique possibilities that Andō’s space provides.
Other public programs have included meditation classes taught by clerics and lay practitioners from diverse Buddhist traditions. The Buddhist Council of Greater St. Louis helped us offer this extremely popular series of classes. Another program, “Exploring Buddhism and Art,” brings together as a team Buddhist practitioners and Pulitzer docents who are available to answer questions and lead discussions about Buddhism and Buddhist practices as they relate to the artworks on view. Members of the St. Louis community — including artists, artisans, clerics, historians, social workers, and poets — have also given brief gallery talks about an artwork from their own personal and professional perspectives in another popular program titled “Frame of Reference,” which is organized by Courtney Henson, visitor services manager.
Integral to the exhibition is the Pulitzer’s Staging project. In partnership with Prison Performing Arts, St. Patrick Center, and Employment Connection, the Pulitzer is presenting Staging Reflections of the Buddha, a continuation of our highly successful Staging Old Masters project of 2009. Led by Lisa Harper Chang and Emily Augsburger, this Staging project seeks to make connections between the art and the viewers, while also deconstructing social barriers. For five months during 2011 and 2012, a group of former prisoners and homeless veterans, referred to as actors, participate in weekly workshops that include art exploration and instruction, theatre exercises, meditation, and rehearsals. An original performance piece created by the actors under the direction of Agnes Wilcox, artistic director of Prison Performing Arts, will be presented in the Pulitzer galleries this spring, intertwining the actors’ personal stories and experiences with the philosophies, figures, and symbols of the works on view. The actors hope to apply what they learn toward fulfilling personal and occupational goals. Their work culminates in live performances in February and March of 2012. A symbolic ceremony featuring lanterns constructed by the actors and fellow members of the St. Louis community will mark the closing of the exhibition and performances.
The Pulitzer would like to thank the following partners and their staff for their invaluable support of our community projects: faculty, staff, and students from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis; Prison Performing Arts; St. Patrick Center; Employment Connection; affiliated staff and artists for Staging Reflections of the Buddha; 88.1 KDHX; CAM / Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Diversity Awareness Partnership; Living Insight Center; and The Buddhist Council of Greater St. Louis; with particular thanks going to Edward Lawlor, Amanda Moore McBride, Agnes Wilcox, Rosemary Watts-Dreyer, Maggie Ginestra, Emily Piro, Br. David Betz, Terri Brown, Juan William Chavez, Bob Hartzell, Kongsak Tainpaitchitr, Donald Sloane, Carianne Noga, Reena Hajat Carroll, Sevda Safarova, Alina Sigmond, Christopher Fan, Rachel Crump, Cristina Flagg, Jack Sisk, and Nico Leone.
The Pulitzer staff deserves much appreciation and applause for helping to organize, display, and research such an important group of objects. I am especially grateful to Francesca Herndon-Consagra for conceiving of and organizing Reflections of the Buddha and its curatorial initiatives, for overseeing and contributing to its web and print catalogues, and for helping to organize its public programming. We would both like to thank Sydney Norton, curatorial assistant, for conducting object research, offering classes to the Pulitzer’s docents, and providing a detailed study guide for the Pulitzer staff, docents, and local educators. Abigail Green, the Pulitzer’s summer intern, produced a comprehensive glossary of terms, and Matthew Barker, curatorial administrative assistant, helped design and edit the study guide.
For an installation so refined and understated, it took the incredibly detailed efforts of the chief of installation, Shane Simmons, who oversaw the work of carpenter Tim Kelly and painter Craig Overy, and also of the installation crew: Eric Fox, Danielle Kantrowitz, Salvatore La Forte, and BJ Vogt. Registrars Helene Rundell and Elise Johnson effectively organized all aspects of the installation. We are also grateful to Amy Broadway, Lauren Kolber, Jim Maloney, and Steve Morby, as well as Stephen Schenkenberg, Ken Botnick, and Sam Fentress.
Emily Rauh Pulitzer
 Quoted in Tadao Andō and Massimo Vignelli, Tadao Andō: Light and Water (New York: Monacelli Press, 2003), 154.
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