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Smile of the Buddha: Eastern Philosophy and Western Art from Monet to Today Hardcover – September 14, 2005
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"This timely and beautifully illustrated book expands our perspective on how spirituality inspire and inform one another."--"True Budda Blog"
From the Inside Flap
"How wonderful that Jacquelynn Baas has seen the light of the Buddha's smile shining from faraway Asia into the realm of the art of modern times in what we think of as the West! . . . Her work reveals how some of our most influential artists explored and expressed the sophisticated perceptions and joyful energy emanating from the realm of Buddhist Asia."Robert A. F. Thurman
"As a Buddhist scholar and artist I welcome this thoughtful and richly detailed study of how many aspects of Buddhism have stimulated, invigorated, and enriched Western arts over the past 150 years."Stephen Addiss, author of The Art of Zen
"A crucial contribution to modern art studies, this high-spirited text surveys Western artists awakened by the wisdom of the East, from Monet and Duchamp to O'Keeffe to Martin. It is a thoughtful book about thoughtful artists, their values and their visions, with a lot to offer general readers and specialists alike."Charles Stuckey, Associate Professor of Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Top Customer Reviews
By exploring the influences of Asian thought in general and Buddhism in particular on European and American artists of the modern era, Baas takes her readers on a breathtaking leap across time and geography.
That she lands squarely on target is attested by art historians and scholars of Buddhism who have praised this book as "careful and intelligent," "thoughtful and richly detailed," "high spirited" and "a crucial contribution to modern art studies."
My own take, as a lay reader with no credentials in either art history or Asian thought, is that Baas, Director emeritus of the University of California Art Museum, has created a most unusual hybrid: a handsomely illustrated coffee table volume with a fascinating detective story woven among its color plates.
Like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, historical magnifying glass in hand, she investigates a bevy of mysteries. How was it that Taoist and Buddhist emphasis on change infiltrated European culture through, of all things, the English Romantic Garden? How did Buddhist philosophy appeal to artists including Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin? How did Asian aesthetic theory open a path to abstract painting for Georgia O'Keeffe? How did Buddhism influence Marcel Duchamp to imagine new connections between artist, viewer and object, helping change the very definition of "art"?
Bringing her story into the present, Baas sheds light on the role of Zen in the music and performance art of John Cage, Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono and Laurie Anderson.Read more ›
I learned that, broadly, Buddhism an experiential religion, which strives at leaving the ego behind through meditation on the Void, and seeks awaking and transcendence while pondering the transience and sorrow of life. Some of this resonates in my religion too. I'm sure this is a vast simplification since there are many flavors of Buddhism (just like there are many flavors of Christianity), but I like to think it is at least a start.
What really surprised me was not what I learned about Buddhism itself but HOW it is expressed and sought after through the arts. John Cage, for example, randomly generated his art and music. His musical piece, 4'33'' (4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence) was the artistic equivalent of a blank canvas, and his other music is almost unlistenable (at least to me). Blank and mono-chrome colored canvases are also an expression of Buddhism; it is meant to invoke a response after staring long enough. The same applies to Yoko Ono and her `happenings'; at one of her events, members of the audience were invited onstage, one-by-one to cut a piece of her clothing off. A Japanese artist, June Paik, painted with his head. Another artist's work was an empty white room. Still another frightened his audience at his piano recital by his strange somewhat violent behavior including cutting off the tie of John Cage who just happened to be in attendance.Read more ›