Seattle Asian Art Museum Presents Recent Acquisitions

Through November 28, 2010, the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) is featuring two, distinct exhibitions that highlight recent additions to the museum’s permanent collections of art from across Asia. “The New Old and The New New” bring together nearly 40 works acquired since 2002, showcasing paintings, calligraphy, sculpture and more from 1629 to the present.

“The New Old: Recent Acquisitions of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy”
The New Old features recent acquisitions of Chinese painting and calligraphy created between 1629 and 2007. Many of the works on view were donated to the museum in honor of Director Emerita Mimi Gates, a historian of Chinese painting.

Since its doors opened in 1933, the Seattle Art Museum has maintained strong holdings of Chinese ceramics and sculptures, which now reside at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In recent years, the museum has worked to strengthen its collection of two-dimensional Chinese art objects, as well. The paintings and calligraphy on view in “The New Old” – most of which were acquired within the last two years – constitute the largest and most ambitious acquisition initiative at SAAM to date and significantly enhance the museum’s historically modest collection of these forms of Chinese art. Examples from the exhibition include key works by Bada Shanren (1626–1705) and Ren Bonian (1840–1895), which demonstrate an exceptionally “modernist” approach that influenced later painters. Conversely some “old-fashioned” works on view, produced in twentieth-century China, took on new meaning in an era filled with political and identity crises.

“The New Old: Recent Acquisitions of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy” was curated by Josh Yiu, the Seattle Art Museum’s Foster Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art.

“The New New: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Asian Art”
With recent acquisitions of works from the 1950s to the present “The New New” represents artists born in at least five different countries—China, Japan, Korea, Canada and the United States—who currently reside in Asia, the United States and Great Britain. All of the works in “The New New” have been acquired by SAM since 2002, and they represent a multiplicity of media, from painting and photography to ceramics, glass and computer-aided design.

From Toshiko Takaezu’s biomorphic vessel from the late 1950s to Chinese artist Shen Liang’s large-scale oil painting made in 2006, the works are engaged in various dialogues with tradition – some by referencing the artists’ Asian nationality or heritage, some by questioning or even denying these connections. Conversations between past and present and tradition and modernity play out through the materials, subjects and mode of expression employed by artists who are no longer defined by their culture, but rather seek to define it themselves.

“The New New: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Asian Art” was Co-curated by Michael Darling, the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, and Catherine Roche, Interim Curatorial Associate for Asian Art.

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