Strong visual impact was a primary goal for our exhibition Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy. This is not always easy to accomplish in an art form often intended for private viewings by small groups or individuals. An example is Thousand Character Classic by Wen Peng (1498-1573), an album of 85 double leaves. The album is a format that is meant to be viewed page by page, but we asked Marco Centin, our exhibition designer, Shiho Sasaki, our paper conservator, and Vincent Avalos, our mount maker to come up with a way to show all 85 leaves and the cover on a large curved wall. As shown in the photograph here, their solution is ingenious and the result is stunning and magical. It took almost the entire summer for the team to make this happen!
Archive for 'Preparations'
Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy opens next week, and installation is in full swing. This is always a frantic, stressful, and exciting time for us, especially for the people at the coal face: curators, registrars, conservators and the preparations team.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to walk past one of the galleries while the team was installing. I felt compelled to press my face against the tinted glass doors to try to get a better look. Although unfinished, the display in the galleries is breathtaking. I must confess, I had trouble getting excited about an exhibition of calligraphy at first. But having seen the exhibition take shape over the past few months, I can’t wait for it to open. It’s going to be amazing.
Luckily for you, our photographer has been snapping some images of the installation, so you can have your own sneak peek on Flickr. Out of Character opens on October 5, but we’re kicking off with artist Xu Bing and collector Jerry Yang in conversation with museum director Jay Xu on October 4. See you there.
Are you going on a fall sojourn through San Francisco International Airport anytime soon? If so, you may encounter some divine visitors from the Asian Art Museum. . Last week, museum staff oversaw the installation of Deities in Stone: Hindu Sculpture from Collections of the Asian Art Museum in the airport’s United Airlines terminal 3.
The latest in as series of collaborations between the Asian and SFO Museum, this exhibition features 32 Indian sculptures from the Avery Brundage Collection, many on view for the first time.
There are some very diverse contemporary pieces in the Phantoms of Asia exhibition. There is one that I especially like, The Cult of Appearance III, by South Asian artist Jagannath Panda. It is in two sections and the interesting thing—especially from the perspective of our exhibitions team installing the works—is that there are some separate elements that get attached to the painting.
Above is a photo of Assistant Registrar Cristina Lichauco helping our Head of Conservation Katie Holbrow during the installation. Katie is attaching a fabric and ribbon laden element to the piece.
One of the exciting things about contemporary art is that its meaning has not been fixed by scholarship. I cannot tell you that much about the painting or the artist’s intentions, but if you read his bio on our website it might give you more insight. You can also join us this Thursday night, May 17, for an after-hours preview of the exhibition and decide for yourself what it all means.
We’ve wrapped up week two of the Phantoms of Asia installation (read about week one here) and a crazy week it has been. Because this exhibition encompasses the entire museum, the install team has had the challenge of juggling simultaneous installation in several galleries at once.
Tateuchi gallery was the first major transformation. The brilliantly colored walls of Deities, Demons, and Dudes with ‘Staches have given way to a contemporary white space exploring the theme of sacred mountains.
The first week of an exhibition install is always a magical week. As we begin to unpack and examine the artwork up close, we are continually reminded that catalog photographs are no substitute for the real thing.
What happens when an artist is suddenly inspired? She gets to work, of course. Artist Sun K. Kwak was scheduled to begin her installation on the first floor of the museum next week, but a flash of inspiration has brought her in today.
We don’t know how long she will be working this week and we don’t know when she’ll be done. As our exhibition manager Kelly put it, “This is kinda like whale watching—things just happen.” We are watching art performed and made in real time. If you’re able, you should join us.
Artists from Phantoms of Asia will be installing their work in our galleries over the next couple of weeks.
Check back here for updates about who is coming when. We promise you’ll know as soon as we do.
While Maharaja is still going strong in our galleries, behind the scenes we’re gearing up for our next major exhibition, Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past. I spoke to assistant curator of contemporary art Allison Harding about why preparing for this show is different.
What’s special about the way this show is being presented?
To deepen visitors’ experience of contemporary art, we are incorporating traditional objects into the exhibition. This approach might seem counter-intuitive but we’ve found that blending old and new art offers more entry points for the viewer, and inspires new insights about both. For me, this exhibition shows that over thousands of years art really has not changed at its core. We make things to explore and to communicate ideas, and to access realms beyond everyday life. When artisans during China’s Han dynasty handcrafted incense burners in the shape of sacred mountains, for example, they were exploring some of the same questions as today’s artists who make work about the environment: how can we respect and protect the landscape? How does it respond to our actions?
When you visit Phantoms of Asia, you’ll find contemporary objects in many collection galleries. I look forward to hearing the connections that these old and new objects spark for you.
Which works are you the most excited about seeing installed?
I am most excited about site-specific installations by Adrian Wong, Sun K. Kwak, and Heman Chong. These works will be created by the artists just before the exhibition opening. We won’t see them until we can experience them in the space. I am eager to see how visitors engage with these installations as I expect that people will have unique, personal experiences of each work.
Which works will be the most challenging to display?
For a museum of mostly traditional art, a project like Phantoms of Asia pushes many boundaries of display. Our team has taken on this challenge with creativity and an open mind. We will have live trees in our galleries, we will have art created by visitors, we will show large installations and videos, and we are building temporary walls in our collection galleries.
This show is a huge amount of work – are you going to treat yourself when it’s done?
First I will spend time enjoying the galleries. Seeing the work of 31 contemporary artists in our museum will be the biggest treat! Then I will fulfill an outstanding promise to visit barns and ride tractors in Vermont with my son.
With the close of Poetry in Clay on January 8, the Asian Art Museum’s Korean galleries have once again become a work in progress. A collection of old friends — ceramic and metal works from the museum’s collection — are on their way back.
The reinstalled gallery will re-open this weekend, so be sure to take a moment to revisit your favorite Korean works.
But in addition to works from the collection, we have another treat on view. When the museum opened at Civic Center back in 2003, the Korean artist Cho Duk-Hyun excavated a pack of dogs on museum grounds as part of the Eureka project. Ten of these dogs were later given to the museum. As part of the Korean gallery reinstallation, we’ve let these dogs out of their storage crate for a brief romp. You can check the pups out and watch a video documenting their unearthing starting January 28.
Bonus Quiz: There are nine dogs in the gallery but ten in the pack that was given to the museum. Can you guess where doggy number ten is? Put your answer in the comments below.
Chinese artist Chang Dai-chien (also known as Zhang Daqian) may not have the kind of name recognition that Pablo Picasso enjoys, but in 2011 he ousted the Spaniard as the biggest auction earner in recent years. Chang’s works made $506.7 million in auction sales last year, according to Artprice, and two other Chinese artists were in the top five earners.
Here at the museum, we were excited to see Chang’s name in the news because one of his paintings, Clouded Mountain, will soon go on view in our China gallery.
As a preeminent painter of twentieth-century China, Chang integrated modern sensibilities into traditional Chinese painting. In 1956 he made his first pan-European tour, at which time his eyesight began to deteriorate. During this time, he unexpectedly developed his most innovative painting technique of splashed ink and color. Clouded Mountains exemplifies the splashed ink technique. The poem, inscribed by Chang, reads:
I was in the mood to paint in the middle of night
My wife and son were awakened from their dreams
Ink overturned and running out of control
Emerging from the summer clouds a celestial mountain
Chang’s painting will go on view on January 24.