Ananda K. Coomaraswamy: The Dance of Shiva: On Indian Art and Culture

Ananda Coomaraswamy, late curator of Indian art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, was unexcelled in his knowledge of the arts of the Orient, and unmatched in his understanding of Indian culture, language, religion, and philosophy. In this excellent reprint of a rare volume of essays, he reveals the essence of the Indian experience, rooted in "a constant intuition" of the unity and harmony of all life. Everything has its place, every being its function and all play a part in the divine concert led by Natarājā (Śiva), Lord of Dancers.
In a series of 14 stimulating and provocative essays, Coomaraswamy unfolds the vast metaphysic of India: the magnificent revelation of its art; its conception of the universe; social organization; attitudes toward feminism; problems of family; romantic love, and marriage. His sweeping commentary considers the "intellectual fraternity" of mankind; the venerable past as it survives side by side with emerging modern India; and the individual, autonomy, and repudiation of "the will to govern."
Enhancing the text are 27 black-and-white photographs — mostly of masterpieces of painting and sculpture from the second century B.C. to the eighteenth century, and including the glorious "Cosmic Dance of N taraja." This handsome volume offers rich insight into the art, philosophy, and culture of a fascinating forty-centuries-old civilization.

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Further Readings by the Author Available as PDF:
The Essential Ananda Coomaraswamy
Introduction to Indian Art
Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism
The Aims of Indian Art (text only)

Additional Resources
A Tale of a Curator and a Collector: The Ross-Coomaraswamy Bond (Asia Society Lecture)

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Lewis Hyde: Trickster Makes This World

Trickster Makes This World solidifies Lewis Hyde's reputation as, in Robert Bly's words, "the most subtle, thorough, and brilliant mythologist we now have." In it, Hyde now brings to life the playful and disruptive side of human imagination as it is embodied in trickster mythology. He first revisits the old stories–Hermes in Greece, Eshu in West Africa, Krishna in India, Coyote in North America, among others–and then holds them up against the life and work of more recent creators: Picasso, Duchamp, Ginsberg, John Cage, and Frederick Douglass. Authoritative in its scholarship, loose-limbed in its style, Trickster Makes This World ranks among the great works of modern cultural criticism.

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Profile of Lewis Hyde: What is Art? (NYT)
Review: The Guardian
Introduction to The Gift
Essay: Common as Air

Carl Jung: Man and his Symbols


This one book stands apart from Jung's other works. Before, Jungian theories were out of the reach of the general public, but then he had a dream that he, "was standing in a public place addressing a multitude of people…in rapt attention…who understood him." He was then approached by a publisher for such a book, and he agreed to take on the project with the help of a few of his closest peers. Man and his Symbols is Jung's final works, written close to the end of his life. Completed ten days before his death, it acts as a summary and reflection on his life's work.
Only the first chapter is written by Jung, and the remaining chapters are written by individuals handpicked and trained in Jungian psychology. Jung supervised and edited all of the remaining chapters. The result is a delightfully readable volume that delivers Jung's essential theories in a nutshell
Safa Alai (edited)

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Further Readings:
Memories, Dreams and Reflections (PDF)
The Undiscovered Self (PDF)
Psychology of the Unconscious (Ebook)
Collected Works (Ebook)

Leo Tolstoy: What is Art?

During the decades of his world fame as sage & preacher as well as author of War & Peace & Anna Karenina, Tolstoy wrote prolifically in a series of essays & polemics on issues of morality, social justice & religion. These culminated in What is Art?, published in 1898. Although Tolstoy perceived the question of art to be a religious one, he considered & rejected the idea that art reveals & reinvents through beauty. The works of Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Baudelaire & even his own novels are condemned in the course of Tolstoy's impassioned & iconoclastic redefinition of art as a force for good, for the improvement of humankind.

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Supplementary Resources:
Free PDFS/Ebooks of Other Titles
Manas Journal: October, 1962
Leo Tolstoy on Emotion Infectiousness and What Separates Good Art from the Bad Art

Roger Lipsey: The Spiritual in 20th C. Art // Wassily Kandinsky: Concerning the Spiritual in Art


In 1911, modernist painter Wassily Kandinsky published Concerning the Spiritual in Art, a treatise on the meaning of modern art and a challenge to his contemporaries to free their work from traditional bonds. Eight decades later, the distinguished scholar Roger Lipsey examined the response to Kandinsky's call with this exploration of the spiritual content of twentieth-century art.
A compelling, well-illustrated history of art and ideas, this book focuses on the works of such renowned painters as Mondrian, Klee, Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Matisse, and Brancusi. Lipsey interprets each creation within the context of its conception, examining the movements that inspired each work, from Theosophy and Buddhism to Jungian thought and humanistic psychology. Letters, diaries, and interviews provide insights into the artists' views of spirituality and the ways in which they approached their work as a form of meditation. The eloquent and knowledgeable commentary is enhanced by 121 meticulously reproduced black-and-white illustrations.\

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A pioneering work in the movement to free art from its traditional bonds to material reality, this book is one of the most important documents in the history of modern art. Written by the famous nonobjective painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), it explains Kandinsky's own theory of painting and crystallizes the ideas that were influencing many other modern artists of the period. Along with his own groundbreaking paintings, this book had a tremendous impact on the development of modern art.
Kandinsky's ideas are presented in two parts. The first part, called "About General Aesthetic," issues a call for a spiritual revolution in painting that will let artists express their own inner lives in abstract, non-material terms. Just as musicians do not depend upon the material world for their music, so artists should not have to depend upon the material world for their art. In the second part, "About Painting," Kandinsky discusses the psychology of colors, the language of form and color, and the responsibilities of the artist. An Introduction by the translator, Michael T. H. Sadler, offers additional explanation of Kandinsky's art and theories, while a new Preface by Richard Stratton discusses Kandinsky's career as a whole and the impact of the book. Making the book even more valuable are nine woodcuts by Kandinsky himself that appear at the chapter headings.
This English translation of Über das Geistige in der Kunst was a significant contribution to the understanding of nonobjectivism in art. It continues to be a stimulating and necessary reading experience for every artist, art student, and art patron concerned with the direction of 20th-century painting.

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