Indians live in many centuries at once, that is, they live in a historical continuum—the past informs the present. The Polsky collections of Indian art—primarily paintings from the later periods of Indian history (sixteenth to nineteenth century) and augmented with works as diverse as terracottas from the second century B.C.E. and contemporary photographs—evoke the idea of connections among disparate strands of Indian culture and history. The striking range of the collections also reflects Cynthia and Leon Polsky’s keenly felt engagement with India and its culture ever since their first visit in 1960.
In the Realm of Gods and Kings celebrates the Polskys’ deeply personal connection with India, as students, visitors, collectors, and patrons. Thus, the exhibition comprises selected pieces from the Polskys’ personal collections, their gifts to their children and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as works acquired by curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with generous funds given by the Polskys.
This exhibition is divided into two sections: The Realm of Gods and The Realm of Kings. The groupings and the subsections within them are meant to suggest rather than proscribe clear-cut classifications. Thus, works are organized in loose thematic categories, allowing for unusual juxtapositions. In this exhibition, viewers are invited to make imaginative connections between images, to open their eyes and minds to new insights, and to engage in a creative act that fuses seemingly disparate elements into an experience of intuition and wonder.