For more than a decade, American photographer Thomas Laird traversed snowy mountains, deep valleys, and desolate deserts to capture images of Tibet’s spectacular Buddhist murals. He worked with internationally renowned art book publisher TASCHEN to make Murals of Tibet, a 498-page volume that is the world’s first archive of these sacred artworks.
form & concept hosts Laird at a special event where he’ll share stories of the book’s creation, and offer visitors an up-close look at the Collector’s Edition of the book. The hardcover volume is signed by his Holiness the Dalai Lama and features Laird’s photographs in life-size resolution. The event is part of a national tour of the book by TASCHEN. It takes place at form & concept on Friday, August 31 from 5 to 7 pm. Murals of Tibet is on view at form & concept from July 12 through August 31, as part of a national tour.
“I spend the day shooting hundreds of images. That’s a lovely day in Tibet, in a dark room. […] You see the Buddha when you’re done that day, but you also have a headache,” Laird told Richard Gere at a TASCHEN event in New York earlier this year. “Then you bring that home, and you sit down in front of a computer, and your wife puts up with you for a month or six weeks. Then you say to her, ‘It’s very nice, but it’s not proper… so I need to go back to Tibet to recapture this.” Using this innovative multi-image digital photography process, Laird captured murals as wide as 10 meters in exquisite detail.
The publication of this unprecedented record of Tibetan art is so momentous that it caught the attention of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who signed all 998 copies of the Collector’s Edition. As the Dalai Lama has explained, these murals are not just objects of beauty, but serve as points of reference and guidance for practitioners of Buddhism, yoga, and meditation, as well as for anyone seeking to incorporate mindfulness into their daily life.
Binding contemporary photographic technology with ancient traditions, this book is at once a majestic art piece, a major milestone in the appreciation of Buddhism, a precious monument to Tibetan culture, and a vital source for the contemplative arts and sciences. The SUMO-sized Collector’s Edition comes with a bookstand designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and humanitarian pioneer Shigeru Ban.
As the murals are often massive in scale, Murals of Tibet measures 19.7 x 27.6 in. In a 528-page scholarly companion book, Buddhist writer and academic Robert Thurman takes us through this transcendent journey with detailed text on the murals’ spiritual significance while captions from experts Heather Stoddard and Jakob Winkler shed light on the storylines and artistic context of each image.