Exhibition | The Kama-Sutra: Spirituality and Eroticism in Indian Art

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 5, 2014

Though thematic rather than chronologically-based, the exhibition seems to include a substantial number of eighteenth-century objects, with some attention to the Western reception of the Kama-Sutra. From the Pinacothèque de Paris:

Le Kâma-Sûtra: Spiritualité et érotisme dans l’art indien
Pinacothèque de Paris, 2 October 2014 — 11 January 2015

Curated by Alka Pande and Marc Restellini


Acrobatic couple, Tamil Nadu; late 18th or early 19th century, carving on wood, 91 x 49 x 14.5 cm
(Collection of Michel Sabatier, La Rochelle)

For its Autumn-Winter season 2014–15, the Pinacothèque de Paris will put on an unusual exhibition: The Kama-Sutra: Spirituality and Erotism in Indian Art. Attributed to a Brahman who might have written it in the 4th century of our era, the Kama-Sutra makes up one of the major texts of medieval Hinduism and is not a pornographic book, as it is often described in the Western world. It is divided up into seven sections (adhikarana): society, social concepts, sexual union, as regards the spouse, as regards extra-marital relationships, as regards courtesans, as regards the arts of seduction.

Around 330 outstanding works including those of Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, maharana of Udaipur and the remarkable collection of Beroze and Michel Sabatier—sculptures, paintings, miniatures, objects of daily life, and ‘pillow books’, illustrated works that were offered to the newlyweds until the 19th century in order to give them an erotic education—organized according to the seven sections of the Kama-Sutra, will be exhibited in the Pinacothèque de Paris. The exhibition, unadvised for minors, will explain the erotic aesthetics specific to the erotic aesthetics of Indian cultural life and to Hinduism. It will also attempt to understand why the Western world casts such a deformed look on that very unusual book.

From the French Embassy in New Delhi:

Alka Pande, renowned art historian and author of many books on erotic art, has been appointed as the curator for this exhibition. Dr. Alka Pande’s first book was itself an introduction to this great Sanskrit treatise, the Kama Sutra, that she wrote in 1999. Since then, she has been constantly exploring the frontier of love, desire, longing, sexuality and genders in her many books: Indian Erotica, a visual journey along the erotic art of the Indian subcontinent (2002); Ardhanarishvara: The Androgyn, an exploration of the frontiers of the genre, based upon the Hindu concept of Shiva as half-man half woman (2005); The New Age Kama Sutra for Women, her first attempt to transpose this text to the modern times (2008), Kama Sutra: The Quest for Love, a visual journey through some of the most explicit erotic works of art (2008); Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art, an illustrated collection of Indian Poetry (2009); and Shringara: The Many Faces of Indian Beauty, a reflection on the Indian concept of feminine beauty (2011).

Marc Restellini is an art historian and a Modigliani scholar. He has been working in Japan for many years, and has been the artistic director of the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris, where he has exhibited masters like Rodin, Raphaël and Modigliani. In 2007, he has opened the Pinacothèque, the first private art museum in Paris, situated Place de la Madeleine. In less than a decade, it has become one of the most visited museum in Paris, close on the heels of the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre. What sets the Pinacothèque apart is the artistic vision of Marc Restellini whose ambition is to look at art history with an fresh perspective, creating bridges and transversality in the way exhibition are conceptualised, and reaching out to a wider public.

The press release (as a PDF file in French) is available here»

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