Centerpiece Exhibition is Emperors’ Treasures: Chinese Art From The National Palace Museum, Taipei Featuring Rare Imperial Masterpieces, Including Celebrated “Meat-shaped Stone,” Make Their U.S. Debut at the Asian Art Museum-Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, San Francisco.
On Sept. 29, The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, San Francisco (200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102) announced that it will mount an unprecedented exhibition of imperial Chinese masterworks from The National Palace Museum, Taipei—marking the first time that many of these historical treasures, including the iconic jasper stone carved into the shape of a pork belly, will be exhibited in North America. Opening on June 17, 2016, Emperor’s Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei is the flagship exhibition of the Museum’s 50th anniversary year, which launches in 2016 with a robust series of exhibitions and programs that will advance the Museum’s mission of cross-cultural education and exchange.
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On Feb. 26, the museum will open Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts, an exhibition of 74 striking artworks from the Islamic world, which tells the stories of a writer in 16th-century Mughal India, a painter in 17th-century Safavid Iran and a patron in 18th-century Ottoman Turkey.
The museum’s second spring exhibition is China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps. The exhibition will showcases two rare and monumental 17th-century maps, including A Complete Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the World, created by Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci and his Chinese colleagues at the Ming court in 1602.
In celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary, the museum exhibit 50 artworks that together reveal the unique physical and symbolic aspects of gold in Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art.
The water lily pond (detail), 1900, by Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Given in memory of Governor Alvan T. Fuller by the Fuller Foundation, 61.959. Photograph © 2015, MFA, Boston.
Looking East: How Japan Inspired Monet, Van Gogh, and Other Western Artists
Oct. 30, 2015–Feb. 7, 2016
Japan’s opening to international trade in the 1850s after centuries of self-imposed isolation set off a craze for all things Japanese among European and North American collectors, artists and designers. The phenomenon, dubbed japonisme by French writers, radically altered the course of Western art in the modern era. The Asian Art Museum delves into this sweeping development in the traveling exhibition Looking East: How Japan Inspired Monet, Van Gogh, and Other Western Artists. The exhibition features more than 170 works of paintings, prints, furniture and decorative arts drawn from the acclaimed collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It traces the West’s growing interest in Japan, the collecting of Japanese objects, and the exploration of Japanese subject matter and styles. The works shown represent most of the major artistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with masterpieces by the great impressionist and post-impressionist painters Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin and Claude Monet, among others. Western paintings, prints and other objects are juxtaposed throughout the exhibition with artworks by celebrated Japanese masters including Kitagawa Utamaro, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Katsushika Hokusai. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Accompanied by a catalogue.
Nov. 6, 2015–Aug. 14, 2016
Where is the line between history and mythology? In Extracted, artist Ranu Mukherjee eclipses the boundaries between the two, placing them in the same universe through colorful, collage-like video, textiles and works on paper. Drawing inspiration from California’s Gold Rush, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the museum’s expansive collection, Mukherjee invites you into otherworldly landscapes inhabited by miners, a Chinese goddess with a leopard tail and tiger teeth, and other fantastical beings. Through its countless layers—image over image, fact mingled with fiction—Extracted creates tension between history and myth. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.
Govardhan (attrib.), Abu al-Fazl Presenting the Akbarnama to Akbar, from the Akbarnama (detail), Mughal India, ca. 1600–1603. (C) The Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (In 03.176b).
Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts
Feb. 26–May 8, 2016
An international loan exhibition of Islamic art organized in collaboration with the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts emphasizes the role of human relationships in inspiring and sustaining artistic creativity at imperial courts. The exhibition spans a geographic range from the Bay of Bengal to the Mediterranean Sea and dates from the 16th to the 18th century—a period marked by the global movement of ideas and technologies and increased interaction among various cultural and religious communities. Pearls on a String is organized into three vignettes, each pivoting around a main protagonist in three different centuries and in three empires of the Islamic world. Through 74 exquisite artworks, Pearls on String tells the stories of a writer in 16th-century Mughal India, a painter in 17th-century Safavid Iran, and a patron in 18th-century Ottoman Turkey. Organized by the Walters Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum. Accompanied by a catalogue.
China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps
March 4–May 8, 2016
China at the Center showcases two rare 17th-century maps, including A Complete Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the World, created by Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci and his Chinese colleagues at the Ming court in 1602. Monumental in size (roughly 5 feet by 12 feet), and called the “impossible black tulip” because of its rarity, the map will be presented in China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps. On loan from the James Ford Bell Trust, the Ricci map is one of six complete copies in the world today and the oldest known Chinese map to depict the Americas. Ferdinand Verbiest, another Jesuit, made his 1674 A Complete Map of the World for the Chinese court. On loan from the Library of Congress, this copy of the Verbiest map has never been exhibited. These two maps are among the earliest, rarest and largest woodblock-printed maps to survive from the period. Both maps tell captivating stories about the world of the 17th century and illustrate how Europe and Asia exchanged new ideas about geography, astronomy and the natural sciences. Organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the University of San Francisco. Accompanied by a catalogue.
Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea
April 29–Oct. 23, 2016
Featuring nearly 20 objects, most from the museum’s collection, Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea showcases the significance of Korean mother-of-pearl lacquer wares, highlighting aspects of their aesthetics, creation, use and conservation. It will be the first in-depth exhibition in the United States to explore this remarkable subject matter. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.
As a 50th anniversary gift to the museum, the Society for Asian Art has commissioned a major work by Liu Jianhua, one of China’s best-known contemporary ceramic sculpture artists. The work comprises approximately 2,500 pieces of white porcelain formed into letters of the English alphabet and components of Chinese characters, suspended from the ceiling of the second-floor Loggia. The artist provides only the building blocks of words, leaving it to viewers to create meaning. The artwork’s location is especially apropos: the space offers an opportunity for dialogue with the original engraved literary quotations on the Loggia’s walls, dating to the building’s previous incarnation as San Francisco’s Main Library. Organized by the Asian Art Museum.
Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art
March 4–May 8, 2016
In 2016 the Asian Art Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary, a “golden” milestone. Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art is an exhibition of 50 artworks that together reveal the unique physical and symbolic aspects of gold—qualities that make this precious metal so important in the history of both Asian art and California. Ranging from a Qur’an manuscript to a Daoist ceremonial robe to a Mongolian Buddha bronze sculpture, the artworks reveal specific aspects of gold production and usage across Asia. In addition, an innovative installation including both California gold nuggets and Asian coinage explores how gold is extracted and transformed into money. San Francisco’s position on the world stage—as well as the prominence of Asia and Asian culture in California—stems from the area’s Gold Rush legacy. It’s a history that continues to inform today’s culture in the Golden State. Organized by the Asian Art Museum. Continue reading