Frederick M. Asher

Frederick Asher is a specialist in South Asian art. His current research considers the architecture of contested religious space and the issue of copying/originality in Indian art. Recent scholarship has focused on contested religious space, issues related to art as commodity, particularly looking at patterns of trade as they relate to works of art in India, and the site of Bodh Gaya. He also has examined present-day artists working in traditional modes, both because they are interesting in themselves and because they offer models for pre-modern modes of artistic production; they further offer the opportunity to think about the role of the artist in art history that has focused primarily on the product. He recently completed terms as Editor-in-Chief of, the electronic journal of the College Art Association, and as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He is currently President of the National Committee for the History of Art, member of the executive bureau (executive committee) of CIHA (the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art), and South Asia editor for Archives of Asian Art.


  • The Art of Eastern India: 300-800 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980)
  • Art of India (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2002)
  • Bodhgaya (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • “Maurya Figural Sculpture Reconsidered,“ with Walter M. Spink, Ars Orientalis, vol.XIX (1989):1-25
  • “Artists of Patharkati and Jaipur: Models for Pre-Modern Modes of Production,“ South Asian Studies, vol.XI (1995): 19-26
  • “Stone and the Production of Images,” East and West, vol.48 (1998): 313-328
  • “An Ancient Slate Quarry Revisited: A Source Located,” Journal of Bengal Art, 4 (1999): pp. 263-265
  • “An Image at Lakhi Serai and Its Implications,“ Artibus Asiae, LIX, 3/4 (2000): 296-302
  • “Shaping Contestation: The Katra Mound at Mathura” Thresholds vol. 25 (2002): pp. 8–13
  • “The Bodhgaya Temple: Whose Structure Is It?” Religion and the Arts 8:1 (2004): pp. 58-73
  • “Early Indian Art Reconsidered,“ In: Patrick Olivelle, ed. Between The Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 51-66
  • “The Shape of Indian Art History,“ In: Vishakha N. Desai, ed. Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007, pp. 3-14
  • “From Place to Site: Locations of the Buddha’s Life,“ Artibus Asiae LXIX, 2 (2009), pp.233-245
  • “On Maurya Art,“ In: Rebecca M. Brown and Deborah S. Hutton, eds. A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 421-443.
  • “Visual Culture of the Indian Ocean: India in a Polycentric World.” Diogenes 58:3 (2012), pp. 67-84.