Ferocious Beauty: Wrathful Deities from Tibet and Nepal

November 13, 2016–April 23, 2017

Striking works of Himalayan art depict wrathful Buddhist deities with fearsome qualities. Although they may appear intimidating, these deities use their power to guard against antagonists and thwart obstacles to the spiritual goals of their devotees. Featuring nearly a dozen sculptures and paintings drawn primarily from the John and Berthe Ford Collection, this exhibition deepens our understanding of these compelling images.

In their ritual contexts, the artworks featured in Ferocious Beauty could serve as both objects of devotion and models for the visualization of the deities during meditation. Many wrathful deities trample obstacles to enlightenment, such as hatred or desire, personified as figures lying helplessly under their feet. The weapons they wield destroy forces such as delusion and pride. By visualizing oneself as these deities, one can also destroy these obstacles and come closer to enlightenment.

Ferocious Beauty has been curated by Katherine Kasdorf, Wieler-Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, working with a team of educators, conservators, designers, and registrars. Nearly all of the works displayed in the show have been given or promised to the Walters Art Museum by John and Berthe Ford.

Through their generous gift to the museum, John and Berthe Ford have enriched the Walters’ collection with more than 200 sculptures, paintings, and ritual objects from India, Nepal, Tibet, and surrounding regions.

This exhibition is generously supported by members and contributors to the annual fund.