Exhibition: From the Lands of Asia – The Sam and Myrna Myers Collection

pointe-a-calliere-from-the-lands-of-asia

Exhibition dates: 17 November 2016 – 19 March 2017

Pointe-à-Callière Museum in Montreal, Canada, is currently showing the world premiere of From the Lands of Asia: The Sam and Myrna Myers Collection. This exhibition features some 400 pieces selected from among the finest objects in a collection of 5,000 works of Asian art amassed over fifty years by an American couple living in Paris. This collection – one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of Chinese jade and Asian objects – includes stones, icons, textiles, ceramics, ivories, porcelains and clothing.

Sam and Myrna Myers acquired their first pieces in Switzerland in 1966 – objects mainly from the classical age (Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Orient). At the time, the couple was being advised by erudite and intellectual gallery owner Dr Rosembaum, who rubbed shoulders with such renowned writers as Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann, and pioneers of surrealism like Hans Arp and Max Ernst.

Having taken this first step, the Myers then sought to enrich their collection. Everywhere they went, they frequented antique dealers, visited museums and went to auctions. From that point on, the collectors concentrated on East Asian pieces, creating unique and coherent ensembles, particularly in jade, silk, porcelain and other refined materials – some of which are described as having magical properties.

Among other elements of the exhibition, visitors are wrapped up in the world of textiles. Costumes from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries in the Myers Collection prove to be an inexhaustible source of knowledge about the customs and know-how of many societies.

In China, silk fabrics reflected the wearers’ wealth and social status. At court, for example, the colour and decorations of dress changed from dynasty to dynasty. In this colourful, silk-filled space, we are introduced to key characters, including the scholar, whom we learn about through a robe – a rare complete example of a garment of this type – and through accessories such as inkstones, which these experts in writing would retain for their entire lives. From Japan, we discover the kimono, considered by some to be the most elegant garment in the world. We also cross paths with the samurai and their clothing, adapted for wearing armour. Also in Japan, we learn about the Noh theatre, with its actors dressed in sumptuous silk costumes. And we imagine the lives of Uzbek merchants and riders crisscrossing the steppes, clad in flamboyantly colourful garments that take our breath away. A brilliant finale to this journey to East Asia through the works of the Sam and Myrna Myers Collection.

If you can’t make it to Canada to see this exhibition in person, there is a catalogue available.

For more information, visit the website of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, Montreal, Canada.

Exhibition: Weaving and the Social World – 3,000 Years of Ancient Andean Textiles

Yale - Weaving and the Social World

Exhibition dates: 20 May – 18 September 2016

Weaving was an important artistic achievement of the ancient cultures of South America. Andean peoples first produced textiles around 10,000 BC, and created one of the world’s earliest weaving traditions. Improvements in technical sophistication occurred around 1800 BC, when growing populations, large settlements and intensive agriculture transformed the region and set the stage for the great civilizations that would follow. Lacking written languages, Andean societies used clothing to define a person’s gender, status, occupation, wealth and community affiliation. Textiles also played an increasing role in political and religious rituals. When high-status individuals died, they were wrapped in layers of fabrics and buried with cloth offerings.

This exhibition, at the Yale University Art Gallery, celebrates the significance and beauty of ancient Andean textiles, demonstrating the spectrum of their designs and functions. It features exceptional loans from private collections, including tunics, mantles and wall hangings, as well as related feather, gold and silver ornaments, weaving implements and ceramic vessels. Characterised by graphically powerful images of deities, animals and geometric motifs, and by advanced weaving techniques, these textiles reveal the brilliance of ancient South American weavers.

For more information, visit the website of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Exhibition: Expressions of Nature in Korean Art

Met Museum - Expressions of Nature in Korean Art

Exhibition dates: open until 18 September 2016

This installation at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, drawn entirely from the permanent collection of the Met and ranging from the fourth century BC to today, explores multifaceted depictions of nature in Korean art. The display shows how select motifs, especially plants and animals, have been illustrated on ceramics, painting, sculpture, lacquer and textiles, and what they mean. Some types of images and symbols are nearly universal across East Asia; others are specific to Korea. One section of the exhibit demonstrates a Korean penchant for abstraction and for amplifying the qualities of natural materials or distilling form and colour.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Red – Culture, History and Craftsmenship

MEAA - Red

Exhibition dates: 25 June 2016 – 12 February 2017

The colour red has a strong affiliation with China and has played an important role in Chinese culture for centuries. The colour remains significant to the Chinese today. It is the primary colour on the flag of People’s Republic of China, and is seen everywhere during the Lunar New Year.

Most objects in the collection at the Museum of East Asian Art are of Chinese origin. Many are decorated with red colours, including ceramics, lacquerware, prints and paintings. This exhibition presents the materials used to produce red colours, explains the symbolism of the colour red and explores the rapid advancement of red wares during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

For more information, visit the website of the Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, UK.

Exhibition: Mingei of Japan – Treasures New and Old from the Museum’s Collection

Mingei International Museum - Mingei of Japan

Exhibition dates: 2 April – 2 October 2016

After the Mingei International Museum’s year and a half devoted to American folk art, craft and design it seems appropriate to return to Mingei’s origins and to plumb again the rich core of the museum’s collection, its Japanese arts of daily life. Brief selections from Soetsu Yanagi’s writings (he coined the word mingei) accompany and give context to a wide range of objects, not thought of as art until Yanagi’s inspired insight, but today recognised as beautiful and timeless.

Recent gifts and purchases will be featured along with long-held objects that are well-known to museum members and much admired by them. Among donated treasures to be seen for the first time will be important textiles: indigo-dyed bedclothes, futon covers, door hangings, wrapping cloths, kimono, kimono belts made from recycled material and painted Boys’ Day and birthday banners.

A large selection from 153 mostly nineteenth-century Shinto ema paintings just acquired by purchase will also be exhibited for the first time. These are folk paintings, depictive of animals familiar and exotic, of vegetables and people in a truly disarming manner. They were sold at shrines (and still are) and hung there by devotees as offerings to accompany prayers.

Among familiar treasures will be baskets, soba cups, tea kettles and pots, cabinets, distinctive coats of the Ainu (Japan’s indigenous people), kimono of national treasure Keisuke Serizawa, a selection of anonymous pottery as well as that of famed potters Kanjiro Kawai, Shoji Hamada and Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

For more information, visit the website of the Mingei International Museum, San Diego, California, USA.

Exhibition: Celebrating the Arts of Japan – The Mary Griggs Burke Collection

Met Museum - Celebrating the Arts of Japan

Exhibition dates: 20 October 2015 – 22 January 2017

A spectacular array of Japanese works of art are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a special exhibition featuring works drawn from the recent landmark gift to the museum by the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation. ‘Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection’ is a tribute to the discerning New York City collector who built what is widely regarded as the finest and most encompassing private collection outside Japan. The works on view include masterpieces – paintings, sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy, lacquerware and more – dating from the tenth to the twentieth century. Among the highlights are a powerful representation of the Buddhist deity Fudō Myōō from the studio of the celebrated sculptor Kaikei (active 1185–1223), a sumptuous set of early seventeenth-century screens showing Uji Bridge in Kyoto, and Itō Jakuchū’s (1716–1800) tour-de-force ink painting of plum blossoms in full bloom illuminated by moonlight. Organised by theme and presented in two sequential rotations (with the changeover taking place in late May 2016), the exhibition will reveal, through a single, distinguished collection, the full range of topics, techniques and styles that are distinctive to Japanese art.

Beginning in the 1960s, over the course of nearly 50 years, Mary Griggs Burke (1916–2012) assembled an unparalleled art collection. It was exhibited by the Tokyo National Museum in 1985, the first ever Japanese art collection from abroad to be shown there. The themes selected for the current exhibition, including numerous works added to the collection since the Bridge of Dreams exhibition at the Met in 2000, reflect Mrs Burke’s own collecting interests.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Treasure Ships – Art in the Age of Spices

Art Gallery of Western Australia - Treasure Ships

Exhibition dates: 10 October 2015 – 31 January 2016

Although this is probably a little too far away for most of the OATG blog’s readers, I like to try and keep this blog as international as I can. So here is an exhibition in Perth, Australia, in case any of you can make it in the next two months!

The much-anticipated ‘Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices’ is a highlight for the Art Gallery of Western Australia. This is the first exhibition in Australia to present the complex artistic and cultural interactions between the East and the West from the 1500s to the 1800s – a period known as the ‘Age of Spices’.

Demand for spices spurred on the great voyages of exploration and the establishment of vast empires across Asia. ‘Treasure Ships’ presents the stories of the spice markets, slave trade and shipwrecks, as well as illustrating the astonishing beauty of Chinese porcelain, known as ‘white gold’ and celebrating vibrant Indian textiles created for export around the world.

This exhibition includes 250 outstanding and rarely-seen examples of ceramics, decorative arts, furniture, maps, metalware, paintings, prints and textiles from public and private collections in Australia, India, Portugal, Singapore and the United States. A highlight of the exhibition is the shipwreck artefacts retrieved from the Batavia and the Gilt Dragon, which sank off the Western Australian coast in the seventeenth century.

Presented in collaboration with the Art Gallery of South Australia.

For more information, visit the website of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

News: Re-opening of the V&A’s Refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art

V&A - Toshiba Gallery re-opening

The V&A’s refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art will re-open on Wednesday 4 November 2015.

The gallery refresh is part of the V&A’s ongoing FuturePlan scheme of restoration and redesign to create beautiful and contemporary new settings for the museum’s outstanding collections. Originally opened in December 1986, the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art was the first major gallery of Japanese art in the UK. It was designed to show highlights of the V&A’s internationally important collection of Japanese art and design, which the museum has built up since it was founded in 1852. The refurbished gallery will exhibit around 550 works in a newly curated series of displays that will include 30 or more recent acquisitions. A group of kimono from the 1920s–1930s are among the recent acquisitions that will be shown in the refurbished Toshiba Gallery.

The gallery will illustrate the extraordinary craftsmanship and artistic creativity of Japan from the sixth century to the present day through displays of swords and armour, lacquer, ceramics, cloisonné enamels, textiles and dress, inrō and netsuke, paintings, prints and illustrated books. The lighting, graphics and display cases have been updated and the gallery reconfigured to give space to modern and contemporary objects such as interior design, product design, electronics, photography, graphics and fashion – both high-end and kawaii street. An outfit from Issey Miyake’s 132 5. range will be shown, which employs the concept of origami to create a piece of womenswear out of a single piece of fabric, as well as a pair of gravity-defying shoes by the brilliantly creative Noritaka Tatehana.

The history and traditions of Japan are explored in the Toshiba Gallery, as well as how they resonate in contemporary society, including themes such as religion and ritual, arts of the samurai, tea drinking, theatre and performance, fashionable dress, dress accessories, lacquer and elegant pursuits, ukiyo-e and the graphic arts, engagement with the West, Imperial Japan, folk craft and the modern and contemporary. The displays will be complemented by films about inrō, putting on a kimono and obi, how to make a sword fitting and how to put on a suit of armour.

Treasures of the gallery include the lavishly decorated Mazarin Chest, made in Kyoto around 1640, which is one of the finest pieces of Japanese export lacquer to have survived from this time; a wonderfully preserved late seventeenth-century six-fold screen depicting the Nakamura-za Kabuki theatre in Edo (Tokyo); a set of twelve inrō for the twelve months of the year by the renowned nineteenth-century lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin; utensils for the tea ceremony including several rare and important examples of ceramics; and a major group of extremely high quality cloisonné enamels from the period 1880 to 1910.

Admission to the Toshiba Gallery (Room 45) is free.

For more information, visit the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.