Jeff Watt - Profile
Jeff Watt, one of the leading scholars of Himalayan art, acquired his prodigious knowledge of Buddhist, Bon and Hindu iconography from a longtime study of Buddhism and Tantra. As a teenager, he studied with Dezhung Rinpoche (Seattle, Wash.) and Sakya Trizin (Dehradun, India), dropping out of school at seventeen to take monastic vows from the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. For the next eleven years, Watt trained intensively in India, Canada and the U.S., with teachers such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, and Sakya Jetsun Chimey. In 1985 he gave back his monastic ordinations but continued to study and to translate sacred Tibetan and Sanskrit texts, along with completing numerous traditional retreats over years of periodic isolated practice, much of it in the rugged mountains of British Columbia, Canada.
He is the Director and Chief Curator of Himalayan Art Resources (HAR), a website and 'virtual museum' featuring more than 40,000 images with detailed descriptions, making it the most comprehensive resource for Himalayan 'style' art and iconography in the world. He has worked on HAR since April 1998 at which time there were 625 images in total (Tibetan paintings only).
Watt was also the founding Curator and leading scholar at the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) in New York City, from October 1999 until October 2007. The RMA houses one of the largest collections of Himalayan and Tibetan art in North America which is currently the best catalogued. The HAR website has been the primary curatorial tool for cataloguing and mounting all exhibitions at the RMA. (See exhibition & publication list below).
During his tenure as Senior Curator at the RMA he built the collection from a personal founder driven collection into a world class museum collection with some of the finest examples of Himalayan Art comparable to the best museums in the world. The Jourdan-Barry Collection was the single largest purchase (2005) with over 72 pieces of sculpture, many of which are on permanent display at the RMA. (See other examples below).
- Unpublished Manuscripts & Translations List (1984 - present)
- Sakya Resource Guide Website (1996 - present)
- Himalayan Art Resources Website (1998 - present)
- Labor Arts Website (2001)
- Female Buddhas, Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mystical Art, Glenn Mullin & Jeff Watt (2001)
- 'Turning A Blind Eye' (Orientations, June 2004, pp. 73-74). Article by Rob Linrothe, Christian Luczanits & Jeff Watt
- Demonic Divine, Rob Linrothe & Jeff Watt (2004)
- Bon: The Magic Word, Samten Karmey & Jeff Watt (2007)
- Mandala, Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism, Martin Brauen. (18 articles by Jeff Watt, RMA 2009)
- The Sakya Tradition: A Brief Overview. (Bodhi, The Voice of Vajrayana Buddhism. Volume 10, no.3, Fall 2009)
- Female Buddhas, Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mystical Art, Glenn Mullin, Jeff Watt (Atlanta 2001)
- Demonic Divine, Rob Linrothe & Jeff Watt (New York 2004, Phoenix AZ 2005)
- RMA Opening Exhibitions, (New York 2004)
Female Buddhas, Women of Enlightenment in Himalayan Art, Jeff Watt, Tenzin Dharlo, Monty McKeever (New York 2005, Connecticut 2005, Dallas Tx 2006)
- What Is It? Concept & object selection, Jeff Watt & Tenzin Dharlo (New York 2005)
- Karmapa, The Black Hat Lama of Tibet, Jeff Watt & Tenzin Dharlo (New York 2005)
- Dalai Lama, Jeff Watt & Tenzin Dharlo (New York 2005)
- Wutaishan, Pilgrimage to the Five Peaked Mountain Jeff Watt & Karl Debreczeny (New York 2007)
- Bon: The Magic Word Jeff Watt & Samten Karmey (New York 2007)
- Big Himalayan Art (New York 2007, Dallas 2008)
- From the Land of the Gods: Art of the - Kathmandu Valley, David Pritzker under the Direction of Jeff Watt (New York 2008)
- Red, Black & Gold, David Pritzker under the Direction of Jeff Watt (New York 2008)
- Tibet House Repatriation Collection Exhibition, Honoring Jack & Murial Zimmerman, Jeff Watt (New York 2008)
Articles About Himalayan Art Resources:
- Maps of Enlightenment by James Shaheen
- A Virtual Museum: Himalayan Art Resources by Barry Boyce
- Virtual Treasures by Joan Duncan
- A Virtual Museum of Himalayan Art. Orientations, April 2004, by Kathryn Selig Brown