The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin

Pavilion for Japanese Art, East Wing, Levels 1–3
May 22, 2011–August 14, 2011

Part 1: May 22–June 28, 2011
Part 2: July 1, 2011–August 14, 2011
The exhibition will be closed Thursday, June 30, 2011.



Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768) is widely acknowledged as the most important Zen Buddhist master of the past 500 years. He was also the most influential Zen artist of Edo-period (1615-1868) Japan, but unlike the highly studied monk painters of earlier centuries, he received no formal artistic training beyond the basic skills in handling brush, ink, and paper that were required for everyday writing.

Hakuin’s self-taught, spontaneous, yet masterly and inspired painting and calligraphy, just like his teachings and writings, expressed the mind and heart of Zen for monks and lay followers alike. With the aim of reaching out to people of all social and economic classes, rather than just the élite, he invented a new visual language for his religion, depicting everyday subjects and themes from other Buddhist sects, as well as Zen patriarchs and masters.

For this first exhibition in the West devoted to Hakuin, nearly 80 of his scrolls will be gathered from collections in the United States and Japan. Organized in collaboration with New Orleans Museum of Art, and curated by Audrey Yoshiko Seo and Professor Stephen Addiss. The Los Angeles presentation is made possible by LACMA’s East Asian Art Council.








The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art

The Los Angeles presentation is made possible by LACMA's East Asian Art Council.

Image: Hakuin Ekaku, Japan, 1685 1769, Daruma, 18th century, Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Image: 44 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (113.03 x 50.17 cm); Mount: 77 3/4 x 25 in. (197.49 x 63.5 cm), Gift of Murray Smith. M.91.220.

Tea Bowl
Hakuin Ekaku
18th century
Hotei Meditating
Hakuin Ekaku
18th century
Hakuin Ekaku
18th century
Seated Daruma, Seen from the Side
Hakuin Ekaku
18th century

Hakuin and the Zen Koan

Well, monk, what a surprise-have you come to do zazen today?“ “Yup.” …so reads the inscription on this painting by Japanese Zen master Hakuin Ekaku, currently on view in the exhibition The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin. Seated meditation or zazen in Japanese, is a key part of Zen Buddhist practice...


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