A life at high altitudes
June 15, 2006 11:36 PM   Subscribe

The Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City, houses paintings by Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist, who spent most of his life on the Indian-Tibetan border, creating evocative images of night and day in the Himalayan Mountains. (more inside)
posted by nickyskye (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

He painted living in the mountains in other countries as well, co-authored The Textbook of Colloquial Tibetan with Lobsang Lhalungpa and created the low-key Agni Yoga Society. His son, George Roerich, translated the landmark text, Blue Annals, a chronology of the history of Tibet.
posted by nickyskye at 11:37 PM on June 15, 2006

Hey, cool. I love Roerich's paintings.

What you failed to mention is that he was solely or largely responsible for setting up a League of Nations convention for protecting significant educational, artistic & cultural sites & property during war. The treaty went pretty much down the tube during WW2, but it was a nice idea, anyway.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:44 PM on June 15, 2006

Whoops. Seems the Roerich Pact was signed only by the 21 members of the Pan-American Union, not the League of Nations.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:48 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Lovely, thank you.
posted by jann at 12:14 AM on June 16, 2006

Thank you nickyskye. Wonderful stuff.
posted by adamvasco at 2:09 AM on June 16, 2006

The last lap of the voyage was vivid and fancy-stirring. Great barren peaks of mystery loomed up constantly against the west as the low northern sun of noon or the still lower horizon-grazing southern sun of midnight poured its hazy reddish rays over the white snow, bluish ice and water lanes, and black bits of exposed granite slope. Through the desolate summits swept ranging, intermittent gusts of the terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes held vague suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible. Something about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich, and of the still stranger and more disturbing descriptions of the evilly fabled plateau of Leng which occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. I was rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into that monstrous book at the college library.
posted by techgnollogic at 3:04 AM on June 16, 2006

I stumbled on this museum a few months ago and toured it, though I'd never heard of him before. (Gotta love NYC.) It was interesting but the best part for me, I have to admit, was wandering through the lovely old mansion on 106th st and checking out his paintings and the memorabilia of an interesting life with no one else there. I thought the paintings were okay but what really interested me was the Roerich Pact. In the context of the Afghan Buddhas and the wholesale destruction of Iraq's historical treasures, it was depressing.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:40 AM on June 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Cool, thanks!
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 4:49 AM on June 16, 2006

This also explains Lovecraft's description of what the "Mountains of Madness" look like.
posted by djfiander at 7:08 AM on June 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

I wasn't familiar with this artist. I like his stuff. To be honest, I think I like his subject better than this style. I found the pictures of the villages and villagers that high up to be terribly interesting and beautiful. His style, not as much. All in all, I like it though. Thanks.
posted by dios at 7:33 AM on June 16, 2006

Very cool. Gotta check out this museum! thanks!
posted by jrb223 at 8:51 AM on June 16, 2006

Wow, what a nice gift for a Friday - a cool new artist (at least, new for me) to explore. Excellent, nickyskye - thanks for such a thorough introduction to Roerich and his work. Also, as CunningLinguist and Dios point to, the man's life is one of an adventurer so an interesting new person to explore.

In addition to his Himalayan works, I like his set costumes and set designs, and I also am very attracted to a few of the religious works that look a bit more iconographic, true to his Russian roots.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:40 AM on June 16, 2006

i wandered in here a few years ago. also love the house as much as the paintings. very cool little-known museum. go!
posted by hardyboy at 12:32 PM on June 16, 2006

Thanks for the post, Nickyskye, and i'd like to point out that his son Svetoslav Roerich also has some similarly evocative paintings of the Himalayas. I esp. like this one of kanchenganga.
posted by dhruva at 10:31 PM on June 16, 2006

Thank you for your informative and interesting additions to this thread. I learned more about the Roerich pact. Never knew about Lovecraft's "Mountains of Madness".

The museum is near Columbia University and Riverside Park, a nice area. It sells lovely and affordable prints too. As others have mentioned it's not crowded, often one has the place to oneself, so it's a nice, serene place to meet a friend and hang out, enjoy the marvelous paintings.

Thanks dhruva for the recommendation to look at Svetoslav's paintings. I never knew. Wow, what a treat!
posted by nickyskye at 12:03 PM on June 18, 2006

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