Be Transformed by Yoga: The Art of Transformation (Audio Podcast)

The world’s first exhibition dedicated to the visual history of yoga is on view now at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Yoga: The Art of Transformation, which won first place for best exhibition and best exhibition catalogue this year by the American Association of Art Museum Curators, brings together masterworks from twenty-seven different museums and private collections worldwide in an assemblage that will never be seen together again after it closes in Cleveland on September 7, 2014.  Cleveland was selected by the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Gallery as the third and final venue of this historic, landmark exhibition exploring the practice of yoga in art over that last two thousand years.



Above: Take an in-depth look at Yoga: The Art of Transformation with Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, the Cleveland Museum of Art's George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art.

Today, there are numerous types of yoga and a wide array of goals ranging from improved physical fitness to ultimate religious salvation. Works of art in the exhibition reveal that in ancient India, there were also many groups who practiced different forms of yoga for the sake of achieving a wide range of goals, both worldly and salvific. Groups of practitioners disagreed on the degree of physical discipline and self-mortification that was necessary to reach enlightenment, which would result, upon death, in final liberation from the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth that are fundamental to the Indic worldview. 

In the exhibition, you will see how yogis became romantic characters in literary works and among the documentary paintings and engravings made for European audiences. By the 19th and early 20th centuries, when India was under British rule, stereotypes of yogis entered the popular imagination through photography and film. The last section of Yoga: The Art of Transformation lays out the rapid changes that took place in the decades leading up to Independence that laid the foundations for modern yoga as has become mainstream today.
If you haven't toured Yoga yet, we hope to see you at the museum for the show and the exciting constellation of related programs. In the meantime, learn more about some of the works in the exhibition via the podcast above, and get your tickets to Yoga before the exhibition concludes on September 7! 


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