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None Whatsoever: Zen Paintings from the Gitter-Yelen Collection at the MFA Houston

Ito Jakuchu, Giant Daruma, late 18th century, hanging scroll; ink on paper, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Gitter-Yelen Collection, gift of Dr. Kurt Gitter and Alice Yelen Gitter.

Through May 14, 2023
Tickets included with general admission here.

None Whatsoever features masterworks of Zen Buddhist Japanese paintings from the renowned New Orleans–based collectors Kurt Gitter and Alice Yelen Gitter spanning more than four centuries, complemented by selections from the MFAH collection of modern and contemporary art, with work by Franz Kline, Takahiro Kondo, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, among others.

Zen paintings represent one of the world’s most fascinating religious and artistic traditions. None Whatsoever explores the origins of Zen Buddhism in Japanese painting through ink paintings and calligraphies by painter-monks, such as 18th-century Buddhist master Hakuin Ekaku, who expressed Zen Buddhist teachings through their art.

The exhibition takes its title from an 8th-century legendary encounter between itinerant monk Bodhidharma, and Chinese Emperor Wu Liang. When the emperor asked how much goodwill his generous deeds had earned in the eyes of the Buddha, the monk’s curt reply, “None Whatsoever,” shocked the ruler. This seemingly casual exchange has come to embody the revolutionary relationship in Zen Buddhism between student and teacher.

On view until May 14, 2023

generous support is provided by:
Luther King Capital Management
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation
Anne and Albert Chao
Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas)
Eddie and Chinhui Allen
Mr. and Mrs. Russell M. Frankel
Kathy and Glen Gondo
Milton D. Rosenau, Jr. and Dr. Ellen R. Gritz
Miwa Sakashita and Dr. John R. Stroehlein
Nanako and Dale Tingleaf