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Rupert Arrowsmith


Modernism and the Museum: Asian, African and Pacific Art and the London Avant Garde

Rupert Arrowsmith

Oxford University Press 2011

This book has been described by Amitav Ghosh as ‘a marvellously rich work’. It is a ground-breaking study considering the impact of visual art from Asia, Africa, and the Pacific on the first Western Modernist sculptors and poets, especially Jacob Epstein and Ezra Pound. Arrowsmith shows that the museums of London, and especially the British Museum, provided a venue wherein Western artists and authors could encounter art from outside Europe. These influences, Arrowsmith suggests, more than any other factor, were what led to the formal experiments that later became known as Modernism.

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The Face of the Buddha

William Empson
edited and introduced

by Rupert Arrowsmith

Oxford University Press 2016

English poet and literary critic William Empson’s only unpublished book was thought to have been irretrievably lost until it was discovered by accident in a forgotten archive. It is a study of asymmetry in the faces of Buddhist sculptures from around Asia, and is presented by Arrowsmith with many explanatory footnotes and a long introduction describing Empson’s wide-ranging journeys to view particular examples of Buddhist art with his own eyes.  The Sydney Review of Books has noted, ‘Arrowsmith’s finely written introduction complements Empson’s style in its mix of erudition and wit’.

at OUP  Amazon  Article


Cosmopolitanism and Modernism

London University School

of Advanced Study

Arrowsmith’s popular one-hour lecture on the nature of cosmopolitan exchange of ideas between cultures concentrates particularly on the love-triangle between Japan, India and the Modernist poets and sculptors of the West during the early Twentieth Century.

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Repainting Ajanta:  The Global Impact of the Frescoes and their Copies

Oxford University

Arrowsmith lecturing at the Divinity Schools of Oxford University on the various attempts to restore and produce copies of India’s Ajanta frescoes, and the influence of the paintings on Modernists in India itself, in Japan, and in the West.

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The Way to Bhutan

Wasafiri Magazine 31/1

Arrowsmith’s poem on Buddhism written in honour of the Fourth King of Bhutan to open the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Thimphu, Bhutan, in 2015.

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Villanelle: Lament for an Airport

The Mekong Review 6/21 (Nov 2020)

Arrowsmith’s modern villanelle about travel, religion, and the Covid pandemic.

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Myanmar Monasteries Offer Bootcamp for the Spirit

USA Today

USA Today broadcast about Arrowsmith’s second ordination as a Theravada Buddhist monk at a forest retreat in Myanmar.

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Review of Deborah Baker’s The Last Englishmen

The Mekong Review

Arrowsmith is the author of numerous book reviews - here is an example.

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The Transcultural Roots of Modernism

Modernism / Modernity

Major article describing the exchange of cultural ideas between Asia and Europe during the early Twentieth Century, with a particular focus on the influence of Japanese art on Modernist literature, especially the poetry of Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, and the transatlantic Imagist Movement.

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Spring Pictures: The Assymetric Art of William Empson

The Times Literary Supplement

Considers the influence of global Buddhist sculpture and Buddhist thought on notable English poet and critic William Empson during the early 1930’s, discovering in the process a forgotten painting by Empson himself, and investigating a globalized love story.

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Jacob Epstein: The Indian Connection

The Burlington Magazine

Arrowsmith’s ground-breaking 2008 essay on the great modernist sculptor Jacob Epstein and his debts to Indian temple sculpture. Much plagiarized by other scholars - the sincerest form of flattery.

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An Indian Renascence and the Rise of Global Modernism

The Burlington Magazine

Major article exploring through previously unpublished letters the painter and cultural networker William Rothenstein’s odyssey around India in 1910-11, wherein he visited the Ajanta Caves, painted with the Tagores, and influenced Modernist sculptors and painters back in London.

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Being a Monk in Myanmar: Personal Transformation in a Changing Country

CNN World Report

Short article about the second time Arrowsmith became a monk in at a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar, in the days when it was very difficult for a Westerner to receive ordination.

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Angelo da Fonseca: Portrait of an Eclectic Genius

Art India Magazine

(cover story)

Arrowsmith’s critical introduction to the tragically overlooked work of the Goan painter Angelo da Fonseca, who has only recently begun to be recognised as a key artist in the Indian Modernist canon.

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A Meeting with Angelo da Fonseca

Mundo Goa (Ed. V Menezes)

A trip to Goa to speak at the Independence Golden Jubilee celebrations took Arrowsmith on an unexpected adventure involving a forgotten genius, a hidden cache of paintings, sinister priests, the home of a famous author, & a bus journey across Western India - this is the story behind Arrowsmith’s Art India article on Fonseca.

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Xu Zhen’s Reclining Buddha

NGV Triennale 2017

Critical introduction to the colossal Chinese sculpture by contemporary artist Xu Zhen commissioned by Australia’s national gallery in Melbourne in 2017, with comments on global Buddhist art and the ramifications of Silk Roads ancient and modern.

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Art, Dance & Sex in the Early Twentieth Century

Wasafiri Magazine

(cover story)

Examination via many previously unpublished letters of the love affair between the influential Anglo-Ceylonese philosopher AK Coomaraswamy and the young Jewish Austrian-American dancer from New York, Stella Bloch.

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