“Yoga: The Art of Transformation,” the first exhibition about the visual history of yoga, opens Oct. 19 at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and explores yoga’s rich diversity and historical transformations during the past 2,000 years.
On view through Jan. 26, 2014, “The Art of Transformation” examines yoga’s fascinating meanings and histories through more than 130 objects from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the U.S. Highlights include three monumental stone yogini goddesses from a 10th-century south Indian temple, reunited for the first time, 10 folios from the first illustrated compilation of asanas (yogic postures) making their U.S. debut, and a Thomas Edison film, Hindoo Fakir (1906), the first movie produced about India.
“This exhibition looks at yoga’s ancient roots, and how people have been trying to master body and spirit for millennia,” said Julian Raby, The Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art. “By applying new scholarship to both rarely seen artworks and recognized masterpieces, we’re able to shed light on practices that evolved over time—from yoga’s ancient origins to its more modern emergence in India, which set the stage for today’s global phenomenon.”
In conjunction with “The Art of Transformation,” the Freer and Sackler galleries will also host “Yoga and Visual Culture,” a free interdisciplinary symposium for scholars and yoga enthusiasts Nov. 21–23. A full schedule and registration is available at asia.si.edu/events/yoga-symposium/.
Yoga classes in the galleries will be offered through “Art in Context,” an interactive 90-minute workshop combining tours of the exhibition with the practice of yoga. Advance registration is required, and visitors can find a full schedule at asia.si.edu/events/workshops.asp.
Following its Washington, D.C., debut, “The Art of Transformation” will travel to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (Feb. 21–May 25, 2014) and the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 22–Sep. 7, 2014).