Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Did the Ravinder Reddy survive Bangkok's turmoil?

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On Wednesday, MAN spotlighted a Ravinder Reddy sculpture that sat apparently untouched as Bangkok was engulfed in fire and calamity. I explained what the sculpture was, who made it, where it came from, how it got to Bangkok and where you could see Reddy’s work in the U.S. The next day, the New York Times put the picture on its front page. The Times failed to identify the artist or the artwork. (So did its arts section/blog , which instead updated us on an arrest warrant for Lindsay Lohan.)

This morning the Wall Street Journal ran this picture as part of its update on the violence in Bangkok. Somehow even though there was substantial destruction of Bangkok’s CentralWorld Plaza shopping mall, the Reddy was spared. (It appears as though some stickers has been slapped onto the sculpture’s neck, but it’s hard to tell from the picture.) Like the NYT, the WSJ failed to identify the sculptor or the work. Maybe the NYT and WSJ just thinks that all Asian art looks the same, so why bother?

I asked this on Twitter earlier this week and I think it’s worth repeating: When I see a picture of widespread damage with an art object in the midst of it all left mostly untouched, I think art must have a certain authority. Why else was it spared?

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Comments

  1. by John Ravenal

    I think it survived for two reasons: sheer miracle and exactly what you said, the authority of art. It must have been clear that this piece is a celebration of “Asian” culture — party Bollywood, part everyday fashion (the flowers in the hair), part Hindu goddess — rather than a paean to the establishment. Our Ravinder Reddy head at VMFA is a visitor favorite across the board.

  2. I interviewed Reddy many years ago for INDIA 20 (Mapin).

    Whatever the reason, that it did and that someone captured this almost untouched image against the destruction, may well give it iconic status in years to come. To my mind, there is something rather poetic about it in this tragic state.

    Art in the time of destruction!

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  4. I saw this in the Times at the time. I thought it was a beautiful and poetic image. I also thought that the Times should have credited Mr. Reddy.

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