Masterworks, manuscripts, mosaics, royal jewels, devotional sculpture, and blinged-out arms and armor feature in exhibitions devoted to the arts of Byzantium, Buddhism, Islam, West Africa, the Samurai, the Andes, and more
If you want to learn the history of the world through the artistry of its diverse civilizations, you’re in luck. This season’s slate of museum shows includes spectacular blockbusters with treasures lent from national collections around the globe. Some of these chronicle cultural transformations, like the rise of an international Buddhist art style in Southeast Asia, or the development of a visual language to express Christian beliefs in the Byzantine Empire. Others showcase cultures unfamiliar to most U.S. audiences: The Joseon Dynasty of Korea, for example, and the arts of Liberia and Sierra Leone. And others bring a renewed focus to longtime crowd-pleasers, like the British country house and the rigorous esthetic of the Samurai.
Here’s where to find the top international arts shows this spring:
What: “Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century”
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (April 14–July 27, 2014)
Using recent excavations, new research, national treasures from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar, and loans from around the world, “Lost Kingdoms” traces the evolution of Southeast Asian sculpture from the era of nature-cults through the arrival of Buddhism and Hinduism to the emergence of Buddhist art as an expression of state identity. The show tracks the ways that religious ideas, rituals, and imagery circulated among the kingdoms through international trade routes, resulting in the emergence of a shared visual language in the service of Mahayana Buddhism.