Teaching Beyond Doctrine: Painting and Calligraphy by Zen Masters

14 July 2018–20 January 2019

Exhibition Overview


SETSU-O, Daruma, 19th century, ink on paper.

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presents Teaching Beyond Doctrine: Painting and Calligraphy by Zen Masters, on view July 14, 2018 through January 20, 2019. Featuring forty paintings and works of calligraphy by Zen masters of the Edo period (1615- 1868), Teaching Beyond Doctrine highlights important new acquisitions to NOMA’s permanent collection, as well as significant loans from the Gitter-Yelen Foundation of New Orleans.

“One of the most notable features of NOMA’s Japanese collection of Edo-period painting is its emphasis on Zen painting,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “Visitors will have the opportunity to directly encounter works by recognized Zen masters, who express their authority and insight through brush and ink.”

Zen (meaning “meditation”) does not rely on the written word, but rather on a direct mind-to- mind transmission of knowledge from teacher to pupil. Painting and calligraphy by Zen monks has a long history in Japan, and flourished in new ways during the Edo period. That era’s most influential Zen master and painter, Hakuin Ekaku (1686-176), is represented by three works in the exhibition. Hakuin created a new visual language for Zen, dramatically expanding its subjects and themes to include Japanese legend and folklore and scenes from everyday life. This rich visual vocabulary continues to inspire Hakuin’s followers.

Complementing this exhibition is a selection of work by notable women ceramic artists of the 20th-21st century.

(Image courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art)

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