October 19, 2013–January 26, 2014 Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Detail: Yogini. first half of the 11th century. India, Uttar Pradesh, Kannauj. San Antonio Museum of Art, purchased with the John and Karen McFarlin Fund and Asian Art Challenge Fund, 90.92.
Yoga: The Art of Transformation explores a largely untapped resource—visual culture—to illuminate both central aspects of yoga practice and its hidden histories. Many people are aware of yoga’s origins in India, and the discipline is widely recognized around the world as a source of health and spiritual insight. But the aspirations that compelled countless individuals to pursue yogic paths and are little known outside of scholarly and advanced practitioner circles. Even fewer are familiar with yoga’s rich diversity—its varied meanings for practitioners and for those they encountered.
Yoga is the first exhibition to survey this leitmotif of Indian culture. The exhibition’s 133 works, which were created over two millennia, range from devotional sculptures and illustrated court manuscripts to colonial photographs and early films. They shed light on yoga’s meanings and philosophical depth, the practice’s centrality within Indian culture and religion, its movements over time and across communities, and the genius of artists who transformed profound concepts into material form.
The Freer is closed for renovation and reopening in 2017. The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC.