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Cleveland is the final venue for award-winning exhibition 'Yoga: The Art of Transformation'
Yoga Narashimha, Vishnu in His Man-Lion Avatar, c. 1250. India, Tamil Nadu. Bronze; h. 55.2 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. Norman Zaworski 1973.187.

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Yoga: The Art of Transformation, the world’s first exhibition about yoga’s visual history. Visitors will be able to explore the transformation of yoga’s meanings and practice over time through 135 objects ranging from the 1st-century to the early 20th-century. The works include masterpieces of Indian painting and sculpture, as well as vintage photography and rare publications. Cleveland is the final destination for this award winning exhibition, which originated at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. Yoga: The Art of Transformation was recently awarded first place for best exhibition and best exhibition catalogue by the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC.) Yoga: The Art of Transformation is on view June 22 to September 7, 2014 in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall.

“The discipline of yoga is widely recognized around the world as a source for health and spiritual insight,” said Fred Bidwell, interim director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “However, few are familiar with yoga’s visual history. Through artworks of exceptional aesthetic and historical significance, Yoga: The Art of Transformation illuminates yoga’s diverse meanings, applications and philosophical depth.”

Millions of people all over the world—including sixteen million Americans—practice yoga for health benefits and to find inner calm. Practitioners and non-practitioners alike are aware of yoga’s origins in India, but very few have seen the often surprising ways yoga has been historically engaged in India’s visual traditions. For more than two thousand years artists have depicted human and divine models of yogic achievement, and their works reveal the development of styles of practice across time and among different communities who understood that yoga had the power to transform both body and consciousness. Yoga: The Art of Transformation includes objects from 27 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the United States, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, amassing one of the most remarkable surveys of Indian art.

“This exciting exhibition is a fantastic way to celebrate the reopening of the museum’s permanent collection galleries of Indian and Southeast Asian art and to draw attention to the importance of Cleveland’s holdings in this area on a national and international scale,” stated Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “When visitors look closely they will find Cleveland’s objects at key junctures throughout the exhibition. It is a chance to see them in a whole new context.”

Highlights in the exhibition include three life-size female yogini sculptures of the 10th-century reunited for the first time, exquisite but surprising Mughal paintings of militant yogis and the earliest known illustrations of yoga postures. Islamic divination texts, a fifteen-foot scroll depicting the chakras (energy centers of the body) and early American films featuring yogis and magic are also on view. Noteworthy objects include an 8th-century ivory carving from Kashmir depicting the Buddha-to-be performing strict yogic austerities, large-scale paintings from the collection of the Maharaja of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, and a bronze image of the man-lion incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu in yogic meditation.

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