Friday, October 8, 2010

The bronzes of Cambodia

The Kandal Urn
A photo in the Washington Post caught my eye as it was a bronze item from Cambodia's National Museum that I'd never seen before. The Kandal Urn, is the bronze vessel that is now in the current Sackler Gallery’s 'Gods of Angkor' show. Here's what art critic Blake Gopnik had to say. "It’s about 2,200 years old. The little lug on its left side is made to look like basketwork, which makes me think the shape of the whole vessel might imitate a wicker or maybe leather container. Why is it that whenever a new medium appears, it starts out immitating old ones? Greek temples show traces of their wooden ancestors, and early acrylics were used to get oil-paint effects. A little backstory: The urn was discovered in 1948, in Kandal province, in the hands of some farmers, who were using it to carry water on long trips by ox cart. Had they unearthed it, or had it been in use for two millennia?"
The 'Gods of Angkor' exhibition at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, USA is the first international exhibition to focus specifically on the skills and achievements of Khmer bronze casters. The show opened up on 15 May and will run through until 23 January 2011, featuring magnificent bronze sculptures and ritual objects created within a Khmer cultural context that spanned some 1,600 years, from late prehistory through the Angkor period (9th–15th centuries). Thirty-six masterworks from the National Museum of Cambodia's unparalleled collection of some 7,000 bronzes make up the exhibition. The exhibition will travel to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in February 2011.

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