Grain of Emptiness

    November 5, 2010 - April 11, 2011


    Grain of Emptiness features five contemporary artists -- Sanford Biggers, Theaster Gates, Atta Kim, Wolfgang Laib, and Charmion von Wiegand -- all inspired by the Buddhist notions of emptiness and impermanence and Buddhist ritual practice. These artists are from disparate backgrounds and explore a range of artistic mediums, but all have inherited the practice of incorporating Eastern religious beliefs into their works. The exhibition's paintings, photographs, videos, and installations will be complemented by performance art.

    Curated by Martin Brauen

    To learn even more about Grain of Emptiness, read the press release.

    Filling the Milkstone

    Visitors are welcome to watch at 11:30 a.m. each day as trained museum staff fill Wolfgang Laib's Milkstone, a process the New York Times has called "austere yet sensuous." Laib's Milkstones are slightly hollowed white marble slabs that, when filled with milk, appear to have solid, pure white surfaces.

    Talk About Nothing

    Laurie Anderson, Mike Nichols, Oliver Sacks, Fiona Shaw, Ken Burns, Sandra Bernhard, Bill Viola, Ponlop Rinpoche, Peter Sellars, Michael Cunningham, Nico Muhly, and Robert Wilson were some of the 42 personalities that came to the museum to talk about...nothing.

    Related Performance Art

    Artists Sanford Biggers and Theaster Gates, whose work appears in Grain of Emptiness, gave evocative and experminetal performances in January 2011.


    Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art is supported, in part, by the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation. Additional funding was provided by Dedalus Foundation, Inc., E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Clinton Hill / Allen Tran Foundation.


    Exhibition Resources

    Audio Tour

    Download the exhibition audio tour from iTunes U

    Installation Photographs

    Click here to view the installation of Grain of Emptiness.


    Exhibition Catalog

    Grain of Emptiness
    Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art

    Martin Brauen and Mary Jane Jacob
    with a foreword by Donald Rubin

    Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art features modern and contemporary art by generationally and culturally disparate artists whose works engage in one way or another with Buddhist precepts and rituals. Video, installation, painting, photography, and performance art by Sanford Biggers, Theaster Gates, Atta Kim, Wolfgang Laib, and Charmion von Wiegand explore the ways in which Buddhism has been incorporated into the lives of people across cultures, opening up a discussion about the practice.

    Since the emergence of the conceptual art movement in the 1960s, Western artists have taken up the Buddhist precepts of emptiness and impermanence and examined the ways in which they intersect with our everyday lives. Grain of Emptiness features five inheritors of that mid-century tradition.

    Publisher: Rubin Museum of Art
    Published: November 2010
    Binding: Hardcover
    Pages: 136
    ISBN: 978-0-9772131-9-1