Pratapaditya Pal

Last updated

Pratapaditya Pal is an Indian scholar of Southeast Asian and Himalayan art and culture, specializing particularly in the history of art of India, Nepal and Tibet. He has served as a curator of South Asian art at several prominent US museums including Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, where he has organized more than 22 major exhibitions and helped build the museums' collection . He has also written over 60 books and catalogs, and over 250 articles on the subject, taught at several universities, and served as the editor of the Indian art magazine, Marg . [1] In 2009 he was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India for his contributions to the study of Indian art. [2]


Early life and education

Pal was born in Bengal, British India and received his early schooling in Shillong, Darjeeling and Calcutta. [3] Studying at the University of Calcutta, he hoped to specialize in anthropology, but the university didn't offer any courses in the area in 1957, and he instead obtained a Master of Arts degree in ancient Indian history and culture. [1] He continued at the university to earn a PhD in the history of Nepali architecture in 1962. He then won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where in 1965 he earned a second PhD in Nepali sculpture and painting. However he failed to get a teaching job in India, and moved to the US instead. [1]


In 1967 Pal was appointed the curator of the Indian art collection at Boston Museum, a position that had previously been held by Ananda Coomaraswamy. In 1969, he moved to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which was then beginning to develop its own collection of Indian art. Pal joined as the head of department of Indian and Islamic art, and subsequently served as the museum's acting director (1979–80) and as the senior curator of Indian and Southeast Asian art from 1981. Los Angeles Times art writer Suzanne Muchnic described his legacy as building the museum's collection from "a handful of items to about 4,000 pieces, giving LACMA one of the nation's preeminent holdings of Indian and Southeast Asian art." [1] [4]

In 1995, Pal was appointed visiting curator of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art at The Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California in 2003. [5] During the mid-1970s Pal had advised Norton Simon on acquiring Asian art for that museum. [1]


Books and catalogs

Awards and recognition

Related Research Articles

Norton Simon Museum American art museum in California

The Norton Simon Museum is an art museum located in Pasadena, California, United States. It was previously known as the Pasadena Art Institute and the Pasadena Art Museum and displays numerous sculptures on its grounds.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Encyclopedic, Art museum in Los Angeles, United States

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is an art museum located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles. LACMA is on Museum Row, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Art museum in Los Angeles, California

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) is a contemporary art museum with two locations in greater Los Angeles, California. The main branch is located on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, near the Walt Disney Concert Hall. MOCA's original space, initially intended as a "temporary" exhibit space while the main facility was built, is now known as the Geffen Contemporary, in the Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles. Between 2000 and 2019, it operated a satellite facility at the Pacific Design Center facility in West Hollywood.

Norton Simon American industrialist and philanthropist

Norton Winfred Simon was an American industrialist and philanthropist. He was at one time one of the wealthiest men in America. At the time of his death, he had amassed a net worth of nearly $10 billion.

Buddhism in Kashmir

Buddhism was an important part of the classical Kashmiri culture, as is reflected in the Nilamata Purana and Kalhana's Rajatarangini. Buddhism is generally believed to have become dominant in Kashmir in the time of Emperor Ashoka, although it was widespread there long before his time, enjoying the patronage not only of Buddhist rulers but of Hindu rulers too. From Kashmir, it spread to the neighbouring Ladakh, Tibet and China. Accounts of patronage of Buddhism by the rulers of Kashmir are found in the Rajatarangini and also in the accounts of three Chinese visitors to Kashmir during 630-760 AD.

Stephen Little

Dr. Stephen Little Ph.D. is an American Asian art scholar, museum administrator and artist.

Jain sculpture

Jain sculptures or Jain idols are the images depicting Tirthankaras. These images are worshiped by the followers of Jainism. The sculpture can depict any of the twenty-four tirthankaras with images depicting Parshvanatha, Rishabhanatha, or Mahāvīra being more popular. Jain sculptures are an example of Jain art. There is a long history of construction of Jain sculptures. Early examples include Lohanipur Torsos which has been regarded to be from the Maurya period, and images from the Kushan period from Mathura.

Victoria Blyth Hill American art conservator

Victoria Blyth Hill was an American art conservator who lived and worked in the Venice area of Los Angeles. She retired from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as the Director, Conservation Center in June 2005 when she was honored with an appointment as Senior Conservator Emeritus at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Subsequently she worked with private clients, including artists, individuals, and museums, and operated an art conservation studio near her home. She was a past president of the Western Association for Art Conservation (1979). Blyth-Hill was elected Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) in 1990.

J. Keith Wilson is an American Asian art curator. He is the Associate Director and curator of Ancient Chinese art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Wilson is the former chief curator of Asian art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Earl A. Powell III

Earl Alexander Powell III, nicknamed Rusty Powell, is an American art historian and museum director. From 1980 to 1992, he was Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in September 1992. The Gallery announced in November 2017 that Powell would step down in 2019. He was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 2003 and elected Chair in 2005. He was appointed to a second four-year term on August 30, 2012, and continues to serve as Chair.

Stella Kramrisch

Stella Kramrisch was a pioneering art historian and curator who was the leading specialist on Indian art for most of the 20th century. Her scholarship remains a benchmark to this day. She researched and taught Indian art history for more than six decades on three continents. After writing her dissertation on the essence of early-buddhist sculpture in India, she was invited to teach at Kala Bhavana in Shantiniketan (1922–24) and went on to teach at Calcutta University from 1924–1950. In Europe, Kramrisch worked at the Courtauld Institute, London (1937–1940). From 1950, she was professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of South Asia Regional Studies, where she had been recruited by W. Norman Brown, in addition to being a prominent curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Suzanne Muchnic

Suzanne Muchnic is an art writer who was a staff art reporter and art critic at the Los Angeles Times for 31 years. She has also written books on artists, collectors, and museums.

Edith R. Wyle American painter

Edith Robinson Wyle was an American artist and arts patron, founder of the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles.

Paul Schimmel is an American curator of contemporary art based in Los Angeles. Schimmel served as the chief curator of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), from 1990 until 2012, where he organized numerous exhibitions. From 2013 through 2017, he was a vice president and partner with the art gallery Hauser & Wirth and co-founder of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in Los Angeles. In late February 2017, Schimmel departed from the Hauser & Wirth enterprise, including Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in Los Angeles, with no public comment on his behalf.

Charlotte Cotton is an independent curator of and writer about photography.

Brijinder Nath Goswamy is an Indian art critic, art historian and a former vice chairman of the Sarabhai Foundation of Ahmedabad, which runs the Calico Museum of Textiles. Goswamy is best known for his scholarship on Pahari painting and Indian miniature paintings. He is the author of over 20 books on arts and culture, including Sakti Burman: A Private Universe, a monograph on the life and works of Sakti Burman, renowned Bengali painter and Masters of Indian Painting 1100-1900, a treatise on Indian miniature art. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian award of the Padma Shri in 1998 and followed it up with the third highest honour of the Padma Bhushan in 2008.

Saryu Vinod Doshi is an Indian art scholar, art historian, academic and curator, known for her erudition in Indian miniature paintings and Jain art. She is the founder director of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai and a former pro-tem chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. She is the author of several books including Masterpieces of Jain Painting, a monograph on selected Jain art pieces. The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian award of the Padma Shri, in 1999.

James “Jim” Morphesis is an American painter born to Greek American, parents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He won the Young Talent Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California, in 1983.

Gupta art Art of the Gupta Empire

Gupta art is the art of the Gupta Empire, which ruled most of northern India, with its peak between about 300 and 480 CE, surviving in much reduced form until c. 550. The Gupta period is generally regarded as a classic peak and golden age of North Indian art for all the major religious groups. Although painting was evidently widespread, the surviving works are almost all religious sculpture. The period saw the emergence of the iconic carved stone deity in Hindu art, while the production of the Buddha-figure and Jain tirthankara figures continued to expand, the latter often on a very large scale. The traditional main centre of sculpture was Mathura, which continued to flourish, with the art of Gandhara, the centre of Greco-Buddhist art just beyond the northern border of Gupta territory, continuing to exert influence. Other centres emerged during the period, especially at Sarnath. Both Mathura and Sarnath exported sculpture to other parts of northern India.

Lotus throne Stylized lotus flower used as the seat or base for a figure in Asian art

In Asian art a lotus throne, sometimes lotus platform, is a stylized lotus flower used as the seat or base for a figure. It is the normal pedestal for divine figures in Buddhist art and Hindu art, and often seen in Jain art. Originating in Indian art, it followed Indian religions to East Asia in particular.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Muchnic, Suzanne (20 November 1994). "ART : Laboring Under No Illusions". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  2. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  3. "Dr. Pratapaditya Pal was awarded 'Padmashree'". bascweb. Bengali Association of Southern California. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Distinguished Indian Art Scholar Pratapaditya Pal to speak at Detroit Institute of Arts". Detroit Institute of Arts. 29 August 2014. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  5. Artner, Alan G. (6 April 2003). "Himalayas exhibit offers rare glimpse". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  6. "List of Padma awardees 2009". The Hindu . 26 January 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2015.