Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior

When 24 Jun 2011 - 2 Oct 2011
Where Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238
United States
Enquiry 718 638 5000

Vishnu Saving the Elephant (Gajendra Moksha), mid-18th century. Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

June 24 – October 2 2011

Curatorial Walkthrough: August 31, 4pm

Press Release:

Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior is the first major museum exhibition to focus on Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s three major deities. Presenting approximately 170 paintings, sculptures, and ritual objects that were made in India between the fourth and twentieth centuries, this exhibition serves as a brief survey of Hindu art styles as well as an examination of the Vaishnava (Vishnu-worshipping) tradition.

Known as Hinduism’s gentle god, Vishnu is easily recognized in paintings by his blue skin. While he is an interesting figure in his primary form, the complexity of Vishnu’s character becomes clear when he assumes new forms, known as avatars, in order to save the earth from various dangers. Vishnu’s ten avatars reveal the multiplicity of ways that one can envision and interact with the divine.

The first section of the exhibition introduces Vishnu in his primary form, with subsections dedicated to his attributes, his consorts, and his legends. The second section examines his avatars, as a group and then individually. The avatars that are more frequently celebrated in art are fully represented in the exhibition, with substantial subsections dedicated to Rama and Krishna. The third section shows some of the ways in which Vishnu has been worshipped, with images of temples and ritual objects.

Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior has been organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee, and curated by Joan Cummins, Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator of Asian Art, Brooklyn Museum.

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