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Alexandra Munroe Named First Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim

Samsung Supports Curatorial Position in Asian Arts at the Guggenheim Foundation

Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, today announced that Samsung will fund the position of Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art. Alexandra Munroe, Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim since 2006, will be the first to hold this title.

“Samsung’s generous support will help the Guggenheim further develop its leading role in defining the significance of Asian art in today’s global curatorial establishment,” said Mr. Armstrong. “Our goals—to deepen scholarship and widen appreciation for Asian art within the context of international modernism and contemporary practice—resonate with Samsung’s dedication to advance significant art and culture as a beacon of our global age.”

“Leeum has always supported, researched and exhibited not only Korean and Asian art but also creative works from the West and around the world,” said RaYoung Hong, Deputy Director of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. “However, with Asian art generating increasing interest in the constantly changing art world, we have decided to revisit Asian art in depth, from a fresh perspective. It is for this reason that Leeum is delighted to fund the appointment of Alexandra Munroe as the Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim, in recognition of her tremendous interest and significant achievements in Asian art. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum have worked closely together for some time, and this appointment of Dr. Munroe reflects another step forward in our collaboration. We trust that this appointment will do much to help make Asian art better understood and more widely known in the international art world.”

“Both the creative production coming out of Asia and the critical discourse surrounding contemporary Asian art demand our deep, serious commitment to stay relevant as a cultural institution in the twenty-first century,” remarked Dr. Munroe. “Samsung’s support inspires us to further integrate Asian art into the museum’s programs so as to create a broader, richer, and more dynamic cultural and intellectual platform.”

The Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art will be the first named position in the field of modern and contemporary Asian art at an international art museum in the West. Through their support of this position, Samsung has identified the Guggenheim’s dedication to the field of Asian art and ensures that the work developed through the museum’s Asian Art Initiative will continue to progress. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation launched the Asian Art Initiative in 2006, recognizing the need to integrate the history of modern and contemporary Asian art into its exhibition programming and collections, and appointed Dr. Munroe, a widely recognized scholar in the field with a distinguished history of organizing important exhibitions and publications, to lead it. This appointment, the first of a senior Asian art specialist in a major modern art museum in the United States, furthered the Guggenheim’s commitment to Asia as a vital area of curatorial expertise, program activity, and cultural exchange.

Since its creation, the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative has organized award-winning exhibitions and their accompanying publications Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe (2008), which toured to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, and was seen by more than one million people worldwide; and The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989 (2009). The curatorial team led by Dr. Munroe has also commissioned a critically acclaimed sculptural installation by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor that was exhibited at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, as part of the Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim. Currently the Guggenheim is organizing a survey exhibition of theorist, painter, and sculptor Lee Ufan for the Guggenheim Museum, New York, for summer 2011.

The Asian Art Initiative has also made the acquisition of works by leading Asian artists a priority over the past four years, with recent acquisitions of works by Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Cao Fei, Shirazeh Houshiary, Tadaaki Kuwayama, Susanta Mandal, Mariko Mori, Qiu Zhijie, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sharif Waked, and Zhang Huan, among others.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Asia
Over the past two decades, the Guggenheim’s engagement with Asia has included a wide range of special exhibitions, traveling exhibitions, and programs. In 1994, the Guggenheim presented Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky, an acclaimed exhibition organized by Alexandra Munroe, at its SoHo branch. In 1998 the Guggenheim presented three landmark exhibitions at its New York and Bilbao museums that encompassed Chinese art: China: 5,000 Years—Innovation and Transformation in the Arts, Dawn: Early Chinese Cinema, and A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth-Century China. The Guggenheim has also organized exhibitions from its permanent collections that have traveled extensively throughout Asia, to venues in cities including Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, and Shanghai.

The Guggenheim has also exhibited works by several important contemporary Asian artists. Among these are Korean-born Nam June Paik, whose retrospective The Worlds of Nam June Paik was presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2000, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, the Japanese conceptual photographer who was the subject of a major commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, and was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo in 2001. Since the 1996 inception of the biennial Hugo Boss Prize, which is administered by the Guggenheim Foundation, award finalists have included three Chinese artists, Cai Guo-Qiang (1996), Huang Yongping (1998), and Yang Fudong (2004); two Japanese artists, Yasumasa Morimura (1996) and Hachiya Kazuhiko (2002); two South Korean artists, Lee Bul (1998) and Koo Jeong-A (2002), and the 2004 winner, Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija (2004). Finalists for the Hugo Boss Prize 2010, to be announced in November, include Cao Fei of China and Apichatpong Weerasethakul of Thailand.

About Samsung Arts Sponsorship
Since the founding of the Samsung Foundation of Culture in 1965, Samsung has made significant contributions to invigorating Korean arts and culture through an expansive roster of activities. The Samsung Foundation of Culture has been a beacon for Korean arts and cultural development, committed to preserving Korean traditional culture, heralding its achievements around the world while fostering international exchanges. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art was opened in central Seoul in 2004. The buildings of the art complex were designed by three of the world’s most renowned architects, Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel, and Rem Koolhaas. With a rich collection ranging from Korean ancient national treasures to cutting-edge multimedia pieces, Leeum provides not only exhibition space but a vibrant, dynamic cultural forum open to everyone.

In addition, Samsung has sponsored Korean art galleries in prestigious museums around the world, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Musée Guimet, Paris. It has also been involved in presenting acclaimed exhibitions of Korean art in such preeminent institutions as the British Museum, London; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris.

About Alexandra Munroe
A pioneering authority on modern and contemporary Asian art, Dr. Munroe earned her Ph.D. in history from New York University and holds a Masters in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, where she serves as a Trustee. She graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo in 1982. Fluent in Japanese, Dr. Munroe publishes widely and lectures frequently on Asian art in Europe, North America, and East Asia. From 1999 to 2005, she served as director of Japan Society Gallery and was a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD).

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, and provides programming and management for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin is the result of a collaboration, begun in 1997, between the Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank. In 2013 the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a 452,000-square-foot museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Frank Gehry, will open on Saadiyat Island, adjacent to the main island of Abu Dhabi city, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street)
New York, NY 10128-0173

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