Consuming the Devil's Idols: (re)presenting Tibetan Art in the United States

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Australian National University, 2010 - Art, Tibetan - 1306 pages
This dissertation examines the transformation of Tibetan artefacts into fine art. I seek to understand how this transformation originated, why and when it occurred and, most significantly, the value creation processes associated with maintaining artworlds. My original contribution is the analysis of the history of Tibetan art's reception in the west. In essence, I investigate the western commodification of Tibetan art during the twentieth century. The focus of this study is the central locus for this phenomenon, the United States, specifically New York City. Beginning with the premise that the concept of Tibetan art as a fine art is a western construct, I trace the (re)presentation of Tibet and Tibetan culture within the western artworld. The exhibition of Tibetan art by the prestigious New York Asia Society in 1969 exemplified the worthiness of Tibetan artefacts as art and began an 'informational' cascade phenomenon. I argue that the institutionalization of Tibetan art discourse at this exhibition, acknowledged the transforming process.

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