On view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum until July 24, “Killing The Buddha”: Reconstructing Zen is the 2023 Arthur Greenberg Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship exhibition, located in the Teaching Gallery.
The exhibition investigates dynamic shifts in Zen and Zen-adjacent art from the 17th century to the post-World War II period. Drawn primarily from the museum’s 20th-century collection, “Killing The Buddha” addresses three themes: meditation, movement and reinterpretation. Respectively, these categories engage the role of meditation in the historical practice of Zen through 17th-century ink scrolls, the global spread of Zen concepts and its Western artistic interpretations and the mutability of the role of Zen in American and Japanese avant-garde artistic movements, including Gutai and Abstract Expressionism.
Weaving the works of Zen monks and nuns, including Sengai Gibon and Ōtagaki Rengetsu, with Zen-inspired artworks by Franz Kline, Yoko Ono, Jirō Yoshihara and others, this exhibition illuminates the outsize yet understated role of Zen in the canon of modern art.