The best time to visit is now. This exhibition had a relatively modest PR budget, so its opening was softer than that of some other shows. But everyone I’ve talked to who has seen it says it is fantastic. That means it will be a word of mouth show, where attendance is likely to build as time goes by. Visit soon if you like a little elbow room.
Okay, fair warning: as you may have gathered, I like this show, and what follows are excerpts from and links to some of the press and online reviews (and a couple of videos), which I hope might convey something of the quality of the show. If a litany of praise is not your thing, then you can stop reading here. But if you’re considering visiting and want to hear what others are saying, then read on . . .
So here’s a rundown of some of the early reviews:
- The San Francisco Chronicle says that the Doris Duke gift has provided the museum with “a trove of Southeast Asian artifacts that has given the institution a depth in this collection area unique among American museums,” and it notes that “the exhibition, and the glorious catalog that accompanies it, mark the completion of that marathon of remedial work.”
- Continuing the conservation storyline, the Wall Street Journal tells the story of how “Some of the Buddha paintings and gilded bronze sculptures that are part of a major upcoming exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco took an unusual detour en route to the museum: They spent decades in storage in a shooting gallery at tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s New Jersey mansion.”
- The New York Times reports that “in galleries painted smoky lilac, charcoal or bright green, inlaid glass chips gleam on upholstered benches, shadow puppets of monkeys fight demons and princes ride elephants on cloth paintings.”
- The San Francisco Examiner praises “fascinatingly detailed paintings of royal hunts, historical tableaux, legends and Buddhist images. A particularly haunting work is the Burmese gilded wood statue of the monk Shariputra, the body leaning at a strange angle, every detail of it and the robe signifying something.”
- Bay Area ArtQuake says that Emerald Cities is “another beautifully organized, elegantly presented exhibit with a catalogue that’s a ‘must buy.’”
- There has also been online video coverage, such as this report from ABC7 (which calls the show “spectacular”)
- and one from View from the Bay (which I’m having trouble embedding, so follow the link).
There’s your quick rundown. (Apologies to reviewers who I missed in my roundup of reviews.) Judge for yourself. Personally, I think this is a sleeper that shouldn’t be missed.
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