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YOGA: The Art of Transformation

San Francisco's Asian Art Museum welcomes the world’s first major exhibition exploring yoga, revealing the practice’s 2,000-year history

Chakra Body folio 4 from the Siddha Siddhanti Paddhati
Chakra Body (folio 4 from the Siddha Siddhanti Paddhati), 1824. India. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Courtesy of Mehrangarh Museum Trust.
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SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14, 2013—On Feb. 21, 2014, the Asian Art Museum presents Yoga: The Art of Transformation, the first major exhibition to explore yoga and its historical transformation over the past 2,000 years through more than 130 rare and compelling artworks.

All over the world, millions of people practice yoga to find spiritual insight and improved health. Many people are aware of yoga's origins in India, but few outside of advanced practitioner circles recognize yoga's profound philosophical underpinnings, its presence within Jain, Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi religious traditions, or the surprisingly various social roles played by male and female yogic practitioners over centuries. This exhibition shows yoga’s rich diversity and rising appeal from its early days to its emergence on the global stage.

Borrowing from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the U.S., the artworks on view date from the 2nd to the 20th centuries. Stunning examples of sculpture and painting illuminate yoga's key concepts as well as its obscured histories. Early photographs, books and films show yogis not only as peaceful practitioners, but also as warriors, showing yoga’s transformation in 20th-century India as an inclusive practice open to all. The show’s highlights include an installation that reunites three stone yoga goddesses from a 10th-century South Indian temple; 10 pages from the first illustrated book of yogic postures (asanas); and a Thomas Edison film, Hindoo Fakir (1902), widely regarded as the first movie ever produced about India.

“We are proud to be the only West Coast venue for this groundbreaking exhibition on yoga’s history,” said museum director Jay Xu. “Yoga’s history has transformed across places, cultures and religions, and today we step inside its ongoing transformation.”

The Asian Art Museum’s presentation of Yoga: The Art of Transformation will be on view Feb. 21–May 25, 2014. Following the Asian Art Museum’s presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 22–Sept. 7, 2014). The exhibition premiered at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on Oct. 19, 2013 and will be on view there through Jan. 26, 2014.

Yoga: The Art of Transformation was organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution with support from the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and the Ebrahimi Family Foundation. Presentation at the Asian Art Museum is made possible with the generous support of The Bernard Osher Foundation, Helen and Rajnikant Desai, Kumar and Vijaya Malavalli, and Walter & Elise Haas Fund.

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco's premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Information: 415.581.3500 or www.asianart.org

Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Hours: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From February through September, hours are extended on Thursdays until 9 p.m. Closed Mondays, as well as New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

General Admission: FREE for museum members, $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+), college students with ID, and youths (13–17). FREE for children under 12 and SFUSD students with ID. Admission on Thursdays after 5 p.m. is $5 for all visitors (except those under 12, SFUSD students, and museum members, who are always admitted FREE). Admission is FREE to all on Target First Free Sundays (the first Sunday of every month). A surcharge may apply for admission to special exhibitions.

Access: The Asian Art Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information regarding access: 415.581.3598; TDD: 415.861.2035.