Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Glory of Shiva

Arthur Wesley Dow was influenced by the shapes, flatness, and stark lights and darks of the Japanese woodblock prints he saw at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1891.

Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, no. 32.
Katsushika Hokusai, circa 1830

Dow applied and refined these principles to New England landscapes for two decades, developing his work into a uniquely sensual, non-representational style, before traveling west to to paint the Grand Canyon in 1911 and 1912.

Dow painted a view of Shiva Temple. Shiva Temple is an isolated limestone cliff that rises 1,200 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon.

The Glory of Shiva
Shiva Temple, Grand Canyon
Arthur Wesley Dow, 1912

Dow baths the shadowed canyon in purple hues that are surmounted by crimson sunlight striking the cliff.

Geologist Clarence Dutton named this formation after the Hindu god. Dutton drew from literary and mythological references to name geologic features. Surveying for the USGS in 1881, Dutton drew from his interest in eastern religions to name the Hindu, Vishnu and Shiva Temple sites in the Grand Canyon.
Fire is His head, the sun and moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart. From His feet the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner self of all beings.
― Anonymous, The Upanishads
The Glory of Shiva sold to a private collector in 2012 for $120,000.
"Dow took on a fugitive effect of sunlight viewed at the cusp of the day, knowing that within moments the light would alter irrevocably." ― Gene Shannon, Auctioneer
Twenty million years ago a river began carving the Grand Canyon. Rising to lofty heights above the canyon floor, these cliffs now assume the almost mythological character conveyed in Dow's paintings.
"The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightening and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not."
― Swami Prabhavananda, The Upanishads