Karmapa in Manhattan: Visiting Rubin Museum

(April 10, 2015 – New York, New York) For his very first outing on this stop in New York City, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa made an impromptu visit to the Rubin Museum of Art today. Himself an avid painter and scholar of Tibetan art, the Karmapa toured the Rubin’s current installations and was invited to a private viewing of select statues and paintings from the museum’s holdings that were not exhibited publicly, including works attributed to the 10th Karmapa, Choying Dorje.

The Rubin houses one of the most extensive collections of Tibetan art in the world, and has particularly rich holdings in thangkas painted in the Karma Gardri style associated with the Karmapa lineage. One of the major styles of Tibetan painting, the Karma Gardri style evolved out of the Great Encampment of the Karmapa (Tibetan: Karma Garchen) as its very name reflects.

Historically, the Karmapas have been accomplished artists and connoisseurs of art, and the 17th is no exception. The museum visit included two long stops to discuss questionable identifications of artists and figures depicted in various works of art.

His Holiness was escorted on his visit by Rubin Museums chief curator Jan van Alphen, as well as Karl Debreczeny, senior curator and Elena Pakhoutova, curator for Himalayan art. Initially the curatorial staff guided the 17th Karmapa on a walking tour through the installations. His Holiness and the curators soon began trading references to other works of art and textual citations. By the end of the excursion, they were seeking His Holiness’s assessment as to the potential originator of certain paintings, while His Holiness asked them to provide high-resolution files of some of the images they had discussed, so that he could continue his study of them later.

Swipe or click on the photo above to view slide show. Photography by Armen Elliott.