Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish
, 1877-1947, art historian, b. Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Raised in London by an English mother, he returned to Ceylon in his early 20s. After 1917 he became the first keeper of Indian and Islamic arts in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He was one of the first scholars to recognize the importance of Rajput painting. His first major work, Mediaeval Sinhalese Art
(1908), expressed ideas upon which he would elaborate in other writings throughout his life. He stressed the spiritual nature of Indian art and furthered the view that art was produced through meditative yogic practice. In his book Am I My Brother's Keeper?
(1947), he expressed some of his perceptions concerning the disparities between Western institutions and Asian thought. He promoted the role of the art object as transmitter of philosophical and religious content. Among his other books are Dance of Siva
(1918), History of Indian and Indonesian Art
(1927), Elements of Buddhist Iconography
(1935), and The Transformation of Nature in Art
(3d ed. 1956).
See the bibliography of his writings in I. K. Bharatha, ed., Art and Thought (1947); his selected letters, ed. R. P. Coomaraswamy and A. Moore, Jr. (1989).
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