Fall Exhibitions at the Blanton Explore Basketball and Tibetan Buddhism

From basketball to Buddhism, the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin opened two distinct exhibitions this fall designed to intrigue fans of art, sports and history alike. See "The Rules of Basketball" and the "Into the Sacred City" exhibitions on view Sept. 16 through Jan. 13, 2013.

"The Rules of Basketball: Works by Paul Pfeiffer and James Naismith's 'Original Rules of Basket Ball'"

Works by contemporary artist Paul Pfeiffer are presented in conjunction with a special display of James Naismith's "Original Rules of Basket Ball" the 1891 document that outlined the 13 original rules of the game. In a rare union, this exhibition considers the sport from a historical perspective, and, on a more psychological level, explores the phenomena and spectacle that surround it.

"We are thrilled by this unique opportunity to bring Naismith's rules to the community, and to be able to do so within the rich context of Paul Pfeiffer's work," said Blanton Director Simone Wicha. "This pairing provides a special interplay of history, sport and psychology that will appeal to a global audience. We are especially grateful to Suzanne Deal Booth and David Booth owners of the historic document for introducing the Blanton to the 'The Rules' and inspiring a cross-campus collaboration that unites art and sport."

In 1891, Naismith, then a young teacher at a Massachusetts YMCA, developed the game of "basket ball" as an activity to alleviate the boredom of his indoor physical education classes. He devised the game with two peach baskets and a ball, typed the accompanying set of 13 rules on two sheets of paper and nailed them to a gymnasium wall.

Pfeiffer has worked in the field of video, photography, installation art and sculpture since the late 1990s. Celebrated for his groundbreaking use of digital technologies, Pfeiffer's eight photographs and six video installations reframe the players, the ball and the architecture of the sports arena to underline the sublime potential of the game and its metaphoric undertones. Also on view will be an exciting new video work inspired by Wilt Chamberlain's 1962 100-point game.

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"Into the Sacred City: Tibetan Buddhist Deities From the Theos Bernard Collection"

In a presentation exclusive to the Blanton, eight rare and never-before publicly exhibited Tibetan works from the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) are on view. "Into the Sacred City" explores the rich art and religion of this fascinating region through five mandalas and three thangkas dating from the 15th to 20th centuries.

Originally used to explain Buddhist teachings to early nomadic Tibetans, thangkas are meticulously detailed hanging scroll paintings on silk that also serve as meditation aids in Buddhist ritual practice. Mandalas are elaborate, intricate circular diagrams reflecting a sacred, idealized universe.

All works in this intimate presentation come to the Blanton from the Theos Bernard Collection of BAM/PFA. In 1937, after spending a year in India studying yoga and the Tibetan language, the adventurer and scholar Theos Bernard was among the first westerners given permission to enter the legendary city of Lhasa in central Tibet. Bernard was one of the most influential voices introducing yoga and Tibetan culture to America. In 1947, he vanished mysteriously in the Himalayas while in search of rare manuscripts.

As a special program accompanying the exhibition, the Blanton has invited 10 monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta to create a 5-foot sand mandala in the museum's Rapoport Atrium. The Sand Mandala Project will begin on Jan. 9 and run for five days. The public and members of the media are invited to view the active creation of the piece and its associated sacred ceremonies.

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About the Blanton Museum of Art:
The Blanton is one of the foremost university art museums in the country and has the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas. The museum is located at 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays are free admission days, and admission is always free to UT faculty, staff and students with a UT ID. Additional information about visiting the museum is available online.

High-resolution press images are available.