A long read ...
This is a massive
book, large format (9x12"), hardcover, heavy "art" pages, very impressive. It was done to accompany a major Tibetan art exhibit back in 1991 in New York, at the same time as the Kalachakra Initiation. It seems to me that I did get a chance to see the exhibit, and may have bought this there (or may have gotten it a a discount ... from the $75 cover price! ... for Kalachakra participants at the event). Anyway, it has sat around for quite a while, and was the last of the things from then I had had to plow through.
One would think that a big, beautiful book like Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet
would make for a relatively easy read ... being that it is at least half pictures
, but, of course, there is very little "flow", and a lot of technical detail, and it really did become quite a chore to grind through (especially since I kept nodding off). However, I now know a vast lot more about Tibetan art than I did before, which I guess is a good thing. While not encyclopedic, this will give anybody a good grounding in the subject, and has many references off to more in-depth studies, if one was so inclined.
The book starts off with various introductory bits and then moves into a several essays putting the material in context regarding history, religion, and artistic styles. The bulk of the book is broken up into three main segments, "Tibetan Sacred History", "Tibetan Buddhist Orders", and "Tibetan Perfect Worlds", each of which is sub-divided into various subject areas. So, instead dealing with a whole section on statuary, a whole section on paintings, etc., each subject has an array of pieces relating to it. The book then closes with another essay on the artistic techniques used.
Now, Art was one of my three majors in college, but I was never much of a fan of Art History, so (as fascinating as I found many of the pieces in here from a religion
standpoint), this did drag on for me, and I'm real glad I didn't have to write a final paper or take an exam on it! However, if you like "studying" art, this is a goldmine.
And, unfortunately, it will take some gold to get a copy ... as this started out at seventy-five bucks, the used copies (there don't seem to be any "new" ones to be had in either the 1991 original or the 2000 "expanded" edition) run anywhere from $60 all the way up to $250! ... so you pretty much need to have a burning desire to learn about this stuff to get in on this. It's a great addition to anybody's library, though ... just not an easy read or a cheap acquisition!