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"Myths, Religion & Ritual: Indian Art from the Koblenzer Collection" Now Open at the Allentown Art Museum
Maker unknown, Central India. “Lord Vishnu Flanked by Attendants,” 16th century, sandstone. Gift of Peter J. and Caroline S. Koblenzer, 2009.

ALLENTOWN, PA.- “Myths, Religion & Ritual: Indian Art from the Koblenzer Collection” is now open at the Allentown Art Museum. The exhibition, which includes major three-dimensional works from the sixth to early 20th centuries, was a recent gift to the Allentown Art Museum from Drs. Peter and Caroline Koblenzer of Philadelphia. The exhibition is on view until September 5, 2010.

The sculptures, which include over two dozen major works in wood, bronze and stone, will appreciably augment the museum’s present Indian collection, expanding both its stylistic and artistic range and its interpretive value. Part of the works that comprise the Koblenzer collection have been presented to the museum as lifetime gifts and the remaining pieces are promised estate gifts.

“This wonderful gift of Indian sculpture from the Koblenzers will considerably expand and enhance our collection,” said J. Brooks Joyner, the Allentown Art Museum’s Priscilla Payne Hurd President and CEO. “The addition of this excellent group of sculpture will give us the opportunity to provide our visitors with a more comprehensive picture of Indian religions and rituals, and we are thrilled that we can look forward to one day expanding our Indian gallery with these exceptional pieces.”

The Koblenzer collection, in conjunction with the pieces already in the museum’s collection, offer an exceptional opportunity to better present the art heritage of South Asia to visitors. The works represent iconic sacred representations of the major religions of the region—Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism—that would be housed in temples and other places of worship as well as works created for use in festivals and public processions. Also included in the Koblenzer collection is a small but important selection of Indian tribal sculpture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

These works, among the promised gifts of the Koblenzers, represent folk images and beliefs, a little recognized but important genre that is not presently represented within the museum’s holdings. These tribal pieces are radically different from the more classical sculptures typically associated with the region and represent a more magical look at religion and religious beliefs.

The Koblenzers have had an interest in the art of India for many years. They worked closely with Dr. Jaipaul, the donor of the present Indian collection in the museum, in assembling this group of outstanding sculptures.

“Our four years of service in Africa and the Orient made us aware of the richness of other cultures, and the particular beauty of the religious and tribal art,” said Drs. Peter and Caroline Koblenzer. “Particularly was this so, in the Indian sub-continent. We were fortunate to meet Dr. Jaipaul, and through his guidance and expertise were able to have in our home, exquisite examples, some of which even pre-dated by many centuries, Western art of an equivalent level. Our current significantly reduced quarters have enabled us, in some small way, to augment the rich collections already established in the Allentown Art Museum- this was a ‘natural’ decision. Further, the Allentown Art Museum has in the past, honored us by accepting other works from our collection.”

“Myths, Religion & Ritual: Indian Art from the Koblenzer Collection” runs June 20 – September 5, 2010 in the museum’s Rodale Gallery.

Allentown Art Museum | The Koblenzer Collection | J. Brooks Joyner |

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