Objects of Awe

These three museums dive deep into sculpture

With summer in full swing, now may be the perfect time to take a break from the hot outdoors and visit one of the city’s fine cultural institutions. Three top museums – The Met, The Frick Collection, and Brooklyn Museum – have created exhibits that focus heavily on sculpture, demonstrating how some of history’s most interesting artwork can take form as priceless objects and artifacts.

Lost Kingdoms: Hindu Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century (The Met)

Buddha (The Met)

At the Met, the exhibit Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century provides a window into the earliest kingdoms of the area, offering a rare and comprehensive display of national treasures on loan from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar. Among these treasures are some 160 extraordinary sculptures, both big and small, from kingdoms that remained unknown until pioneering research and technology uncovered them in the twentieth century. The exhibit is divided into seven sections: Imports, Nature Cults, Arrival of Buddhism, Vishnu and his Avatars, Siva’s World, State Art, and Savior Cults. This is the last month to explore this exhibit, so check it out now. (Through July 27, Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.)

The Comtesse du Cayla (Frick Collection)

The Comtesse du Cayla (Frick Collection)

Sculptures from the late eighteenth century, more than a millennia after the “Lost Kingdom” sculptures were crafted, are on display in the Portico Gallery at The Frick Collection, a distinguished small-art museum known for housing masterpieces from artists like Bellini, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. In the exhibit Enlightenment and Beauty: Sculptures by Houdon and Clodion, works by two of the foremost sculptors in France during that time are presented, including Clodion’s neoclassical French marble and terracotta sculpture Zephyrus and Flora (1799) along with Houdon’s marble bust of the Comtesse du Cayla (1777), a woman who was an intimate friend, mistress and confidante of Louis XVIII of France.  (Through April 2015, 70th St. at Fifth Ave.)

Female Figure (Brooklyn Museum)

Female Figure (Brooklyn Museum)

However, if our recommended exhibits at the Met and Frick Collection feel too modern, consider exploring Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity at the Brooklyn Museum, an exhibit filled with more than 1200 ancient objects including sculpture, paintings, pottery, and even a female terracotta statuette created over five thousand years ago, which stands in sharp contrast to more modern sculptures of the Frick Collection. Located in the Egyptian Galleries on the third floor of the museum, the long-term installation was completed in 2003 after a 10-year process and it tells the story of Egyptian art from its earliest known origins (circa 3500 B.C.) up until the period when the Romans incorporated Egypt into their empire (30 B.C.- A.D. 395). (Ongoing, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn)