Tag Archives: seattle asian art museum

Dr. Wilda Reviews Seattle Asian Art Museum Reboot

29 Sep

Moi was one of local media invited to attend a press conference which described the current status of the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) reboot of the Asian Art Museum. Bryan Cohen   of the Capital Hill Blog provides context in In 2017, Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum to close for 18 months for $45M overhaul:

The art museum at the heart of Volunteer Park is preparing for its first major upgrade since it opened its doors 83 years ago. Seattle Art Museum has begun soliciting contractors for an overhaul to its Asian Art Museum that will include adding at least 7,500-square-feet of new gallery and event space, as well as an education studio and art storage space.

SAM plans to close the museum in the spring of 2017 for about 18 months until work is complete. Plans also call for replacing the heating and A/C systems, remodeling the bathrooms, accessibility upgrades, and seismic improvements.

The $28 million project was initially slated to start in 2008 but was delayed due to the financial crisis and collapse of Washington Mutual, which resulted in a “substantial” loss of revenue for the museum. A 2014 agreement approved by the City Council reactivated $11 million of city funds for the project — funds first set aside as part of the 2008 parks levy.

UPDATE: CHS asked for the budget on the project — the $28 million covers only construction. The total planned cost for the overhaul is $45 million, SAM now tells CHS.

“SAM is in the preliminary planning phase of the Asian Art Museum renovation,” a SAM spokesperson writes. “The anticipated total cost for the project is currently estimated to be in the neighborhood of $45 million, but is dependent on the final design to be revealed later this year.”

The building’s Art Deco facade will remain in tact, but some exterior work will be part of the overhaul. The landmarks protected building will also require the approval of the city’s Architectural Review Committee. A spokesperson for SAM said the museum did not have additional details as it is still working with LMN Architects on the designs….                                   http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2016/06/in-2017-volunteer-parks-asian-art-museum-to-close-for-18-months-for-28m-overhaul/

The project has funds already committed from King County and SAM is hopeful that it will receive funds from Seattle and the State of Washington.

Moi asked two questions during the press conference and after the press conference more questions came to mind. During the press conference moi asked:

  1. Does the update mean that more artifacts now in storage will be permanently displayed?
  2. Since the education space in the proposed building is expanded, does that mean there will be more education programs open to the public?

The questions which moi had after the presentation are:

  1. Given that the expansion is a public-private partnership, why did the public members agree to provide the funds? What is the accountability for the dispersal of the funds, are there benchmarks, and what is the public benefit. This question should probably be addressed to the public bodies.
  2. Does this project fit into the general purpose of the question what is a museum?

A representative of SAM was unsure, at this point, about the amount of new exhibit space and the plan is toward more education programs.

SAM Asian Museum is interesting for a number of reasons including the building and the fact that it is sited at Volunteer Park   http://volunteerparktrust.org/history/  Both the Asian Art Museum and park are on the National Historic Registry and Seattle Landmark Registry. Both the building and park have vocal supporters who are protective of each venue and that loyalty presents challenges to any update or change. Eugene Dillenburg in What, if Anything, Is a Museum?

The Heart of the Matter

Exhibits, I will argue, are the defining feature of the museum. They are what make us different from every other type of public service organization. Exhibits are how we educate. Exhibits are what we do with our collections. Yes, we do other things as well, and those things—research, publication, outreach, programming—are very important. But those things are not unique to the museum. Only the museum uses exhibits as its primary means of fulfilling its public service mission.

Thus, a more robust definition of a museum might be: an institution whose core function

includes the presentation of public exhibits for the public good.A museum can do many things, but to merit that title it must do exhibits….                                                                                      http://name-aam.org/uploads/downloadables/EXH.spg_11/5%20EXH_spg11_What,%20if%20Anything,%20Is%20a%20Museum__Dillenburg.pdf

Dillenburg provides the rationale for the current reboot.

SAM makes the following points at the SAM site:


From its cherished Art Deco façade to the lush urban greenspace that surrounds it, the Asian Art Museum is one of the most beloved treasures in our creative, cultured, and curious city. As SAM’s original home and the heart of beautiful Volunteer Park, the museum is an invaluable anchor in our city’s rapidly changing landscape.

But did you know that our historic museum hasn’t been substantially restored or renovated since its inception in 1933? Join us in this long-overdue initiative to renovate a beloved cultural landmark and preserve a quintessential Seattle experience forever.

Restoring an icon

Think about the first time you saw the Asian Art Museum’s magnificent Art Deco exterior. Or when you played atop the famed camels flanking the front doors—then crossed the threshold to experience exceptional art from around the globe.

These are the experiences that shape Seattle’s visual fabric. The Asian Art Museum has been a part of this shared history since 1933, when Paris-trained architect Carl Gould put the final touches on the museum’s stunning design. In the same year, museum founder Dr. Richard E. Fuller donated to the museum to the city as the first home of SAM, which would eventually be named to the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places.

In a city where change is as constant as rain in the forecast, our renovation plan ensures the museum’s future.

Protecting our collection

From majestic Buddha sculptures to our iconic early 17th-century Japanese Crows screens to the recently acquired Colored Vases by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, our collection has been imaginatively curated and expanded for 80 years.

Our renovation plan will help us safeguard these precious works through significant improvements in our heating and cooling systems, art storage, and conservation space. These necessary renovations will help us preserve our treasured collection so that it may be enjoyed for generations to come.

Connecting with Asia

The rich programming of the Asian Art Museum has long explored fascinating, diverse perspectives on Asian history and culture and Asia’s presence in the world. With special exhibitions like Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur and Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World, the popular Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas Saturday University lecture series, and our lively Free First Saturday events for families, our mission is to provide a deep, multi-faceted understanding of Asia, one of the most significant cultural and economic regions in the world.

Our exciting renovation plans include expanding our already exhilarating programming and exhibition and educational spaces, allowing all of us to connect with the continent’s cultures as never before.


After the proposed expansion, doors in the Fuller Garden Court will lead to a brilliant new glass addition, providing views to Volunteer Park, a welcoming green space in our increasingly dense city, and long one of Seattle’s favorite Olmsted Parks. The modest addition will create a new gallery and more space for our community to gather around art and culture, enjoy public programs, and host events. It will also improve circulation to meeting rooms, education spaces, library, and auditorium.


The architect renderings are impressive and the primary issue in moi’s analysis is what this project would do to impact future exhibit. Clearly, the mechanical updates are needed and necessary to upgrade the types of exhibits which come from other museums and collectors worried about the delicate nature of some artifacts. An huge unanswered question is whether more items in the permanent collection will see the light of day.

Dr. Wilda gives a cautious thumbs up to the renovation.

Here is the 2007 Fiscal Note:

Form revised October 26, 2007



Department: Contact Person/Phone: DOF Analyst/Phone:
Department of Parks and Recreation Kevin Stoops / 684-7053  Jan Oscherwitz / 684-8510


Legislation Title:
 AN ORDINANCE related to the Seattle Art Museum, authorizing the execution of an agreement  between the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Art Museum, concerning their roles in the planning and design of the restoration of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, modifying the City’s obligations under the Construction and Finance Agreement between the said parties for work on public park property associated with Olympic Sculpture Park, and amending the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation 2007 Adopted Budget, including the 2007-2012 Capital Improvement Program, by modifying appropriations to various budget control levels.


Summary and background of the Legislation:


This proposed legislation authorizes the Superintendent of the Department of Parks and Recreation to execute an agreement between the City of Seattle (City) and the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for designing the restoration of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) in Volunteer Park.  This agreement allows SAM to serve as the City’s agent in restoration of SAAM through the permitting process.  It also modifies the City’s obligations under the Construction and Finance Agreement between the City and SAM for work on public park property associated with Olympic Sculpture Park (OSP), and transfers appropriations from the OSP Projects to the SAAM Restoration project. 

The City and SAM have had a long-term relationship and operating agreement regarding the museum building in Volunteer Park currently known at the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM). As part of a 1931 agreement authorized by Ordinance 61998, SAM (formerly the Art Institute of Seattle) agreed to provide funds to build and operate the museum and the City agreed to fund utility costs and janitorial services and keep the facility in good repair.  The building was completed in 1933 at a cost of more than $250,000.  Additions were constructed at City and SAM expense in 1947, 1954, 1959, and again in 1969.  The agreement between the City and SAM was most recently amended in 1981 through Ordinance 109767.  In that agreement, the parties agreed to cooperate in assessing the need for capital improvements and in seeking City funding as well as public and private grants for those improvements.  In the last 20 years, the City has spent about $3.2 million on capital repairs and improvements to SAAM.


In 2006, SAM commissioned a study by LMN Architects, McKinstry Essention, Inc., and Sellen Construction that recommended replacing SAAM’s original 1933 boiler and related ductwork, adding a chiller plant and humidification and air handling systems to reduce energy costs, and making significant structural improvements to the building to address seismic concerns at an estimated cost of $23.2 million.  The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) anticipates hiring a consultant to critique this work with funds provided through the 4th Quarter Supplemental Ordinance.


With the approval of this legislation and after completion of DPR’s technical review, SAM will continue design work on mutually agreed upon renovations and act as the City’s agent to secure permits and other regulatory approvals.  Funds from the work will come from a transfer of City money originally pledged to OSP.  SAM has recently been awarded $2 million of additional funds from the Kreielsheimer Remainder Foundation, freeing up City funds for use at SAAM.  The Board of Trustees of SAM has agreed to reduce the amount of City financial obligation for OSP by $2 million, conditioned on the City re-appropriating those funds for exclusive use in planning and pre-construction activities associated with the SAAM restoration project (see Attachment 1 – letter from SAM Board Chair, Jon Shirley).


This legislation does not commit the City or SAM to the construction of improvements at SAAM.  These will be negotiated in a future agreement and will be considered in future legislation or as part of a future budget process.



Seattle Residents Protest Asian Art Museum’s $45 Million Expansion Project                           http://artforum.com/news/id=63170

A brief history of the Seattle Art Museum                                                                                     http://www.seattlepi.com/ae/article/A-brief-history-of-the-Seattle-Art-Museum-1235822.php

Seattle Asian Art Museum Improvements                                                                               http://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/seattle-asian-art-museum-improvements

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Dr. Wilda Reviews: Chino Aoshima at Seattle Art Museum

7 May

Moi attended the press review for Chino Aoshima: Rebirth of the World at Seattle Art Museum. (SAM) Here are the details:

Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World
May 2 – Oct 4 2015
Asian Art Museum
Tateuchi Galleries

Ms. Aoshima attended the press preview. Moi’s overall impression is a woman who has been seeking solace from a very early age. Here are some excerpts from the material SAM has posted at its site:

Aoshima’s work has undeniably dark images but a positive attitude. There’s no evidence of fear in her art. Her murals, digital prints, and drawings don’t want to escape from society or from the future. Instead, she seems to embrace all possibilities, including a world where the skeletons and ghosts reside alongside the rest of us.
Her work may look like a surreal fantasy. But ask Aoshima, and she’ll tell you she’s showing us the reality that our beautifully chaotic world may be hurtling toward….

Initially, Aoshima created all of her artwork in Adobe Illustrator. Using hundreds of vectors (points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygons that can be scaled), she controls her images with precision. She repeatedly uses the same data for such background elements as trees, and she also spends extensive time making modifications in order to preserve the organic curves of her depictions of nature—such as vines. Within Illustrator, she creates original images for most of the major individual elements of a painting, such as the figures. She then layers in colors….

Unlike other Kaikai Kiki artists, Chiho Aoshima doesn’t have formal training in art. She graduated from the Department of Economics at Hosei University and then went to work for an advertising firm, where a graphic designer taught her how to use Illustrator… http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/chiho

Artspace has a succinct biography of Aoshima.

At SAM, Aoshima remarked about her childhood and the feeling that she got visiting cemeteries as well as the effect of the Shinto faith on her world view. Her current artistic inclination was a rebirth of thwarted artistic inclination of her childhood. Artspace says:

Influenced by anime and manga cartoons, Chiho Aoshima stands apart from her peers through her exploration of the dark currents lying beneath Japanese pop imagery. She presents nature at odds with man, girls at odds with traditional gender roles, and visions of renewal after the apocalypse. She says of her practice: “My work feels like strands of my thoughts that have flown around the universe before coming back to materialize.”

Not formally trained in art, Aoshima graduated from the Department of Economics at Hosei University before going to work for the artist Takashi Murakami, who eventually made her a member of his Kaikai Kiki collective…. http://www.artspace.com/chiho_aoshima

See, Timeline for Aoshima http://www.artnet.com/artists/chiho-aoshima/biography

Moi’s impression is that Aoshima is one of the most technically brilliant pop artists working in the contemporary world. Her technique is crisp, precise and engaging. But, and there is a but that most folk either will not notice or care about if they did notice. The but is the overwhelming sadness of her work, which most will attribute to a bleak future promised by technology. Moi listened to her description of her childhood and the fact that cemeteries offered some solace to a lonely child, who has in moi’s opinion, grown into a woman who has never shaken that childhood sadness.

SAM’s exhibit is divided into three sections:

1. An overview of Aoshima’s work over the past 15 years
2. Digital prints
3. Animated Video

The video has so many levels, one must see it a couple of times to really get clues about nuance and the many different levels of expression. Dr. Wilda recommends Chino Aoshima: Rebirth of the World because of its technical brilliance and the singular world view of Aoshima, which one does not have subscribe to in order to appreciate her authentic, for her, expression.


Silenci? – Chino Aoshima – YouTube

A clip from the new animation by Chiho Aoshima, made in collaboration with Bruce Ferguson of Darkroom. The piece will premiere as part of “Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World,” which opens on Saturday May 2 at the Seattle Museum of Art’s Asian Art Museum.

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Dr Wilda Reviews: Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 at the Seattle Art Museum

21 May

Moi was invited to a press viewing of the Seattle Art Museum’s Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945. This visually stunning Deco exhibit at the Asian Art Museum until October 19, 2014 is an example of how artists pick up vibrations and interpret the cultural vibrations that move their spirit and creativity. According to the press materials:

Jazz. Gin. Short hair and short skirts. The modern girl. The rise of film, and the advent of skyscrapers and air travel. After World War I, the world was changing rapidly. With the machine age came an increased emphasis on speed.
The art world answered with Art Deco, which had a driving energy that found expression in its use of themes from cultures all over the world, wild appropriation of other art forms, and graphic designs with fast lines that could be adapted and used on everything from housewares to posters, and for everything from politics to advertising.
By World War II, Art Deco had left its mark on almost every medium of visual art…. http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/deco

In addition, in 1923, the Japanese suffered the Kanto Earthquake which destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama. It was an interregnum period between wars as societies and individuals coped with the shifting social norms and political alliances. The Deco movement attempted to not only embrace modernity, but to make the modern beautiful as well as functional.

Some young Japanese women wanted to be modern girls or MOGA:

“Ten Qualifications for being a moga” (Modern Girl)
1. Strength, the “ene?my” of conventional femininity
2. Conspicuous consumption of Western food and drink
3. Devotion to jazz records, dancing, and smoking Golden Bat cigarettes from a metal cigarette holder
4. Knowledge of the types of Western liquor and a willingness to flirt to get them for free
5. Devotion to fashion from Paris and Hollywood as seen in foreign fashion magazines
6. Devotion to cinema
7. Real or feigned interest in dancehalls as a way to show off one’s ostensible decadence to mobo (modern boys)
8. Strolling inthe Ginza every Saturday and Sunday night
9. Pawning things to get money to buy new clothes for each season
10. Offering one’s lips to any man who is useful, even if he is bald or ugly, but keeping one’s chastity because “infringement of chastity” lawsuits are out of style
–by the leading illustrator Takabatake Kashō for the magazine Fujin sekai (1929)

The 200 items in the exhibit show the marriage of Japanese craftsmanship and artistic expression with the Deco movement. It is well edited to tell the Deco story from the Japanese perspective.
Seattle is very lucky to be a stop on the U.S. tour.

This exhibit is highly recommended. Dr. Wilda gives Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 a definite thumbs up.

Here is information about the exhibit:

Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945
May 10 – Oct 19 2014
Asian Art Museum
Tateuchi Galleries

Art Deco Style defines Art Deco:

Art Deco Terminology

The term ‘Art Deco’ is taken from the name of the 1925 Paris exhibition titled Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The most popular and respected French artists of the day showcased their work at this exhibition.
Jewelry makers, graphic artists, painters, architects, fashion designers and all other manner of craftsmen and women displayed their pieces at the exhibition. All of the works had a commonality – they were not only functional, but also very beautiful (i.e. decorative).
The term came up again in an article by the architect, Le Corbusier, titled ‘1925: Arts Déco’ and in 1966 at the retrospective exhibition titled Les années ’25: Art Deco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau. But it wasn’t until Bevis Hiller published his book, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s in 1968 that term was used to truly define that style movement.
In essence, Art Deco is a modern interpretation of the art movement that preceded it, Art Nouveau. So it may be helpful to structure the Art Deco definition in contrast to Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau came into existence as a reaction to the purely functional and practical spirit of the Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, society was primarily concerned with production, machinery and the output of goods. Less focus was placed on beauty.
If something did not serve a practical purpose, it was in essence useless, regardless of how much pleasure it gave you to look at and admire it. But just like with anything in life, when you focus on one aspect of something at the exclusion of another, the other comes back with a vengeance! And so in came Art Nouveau.

Artists of the day began creating works of art that were highly stylized and purely decorative. The focus started to shift from the cold, dismal, lifeless factories to the energetic, colourful natural environment. Artists began to incorporate naturalistic motifs into their works – dragonflies, insects, flowers, birds, flowing water, etc.
Rounded edges, scrolls and curves were very popular as they evoked a more organic, natural feel. Moreover, the focus was back on beauty and decoration. Everything from architecture to jewellery to common household objects was embellished and beautified – function took a back seat and beauty was glorified.

Art Nouveau to Art Deco

Art Deco followed in Art Nouveau’s footsteps in that it also paid homage to beauty, but it was a more ‘modern’ interpretation. The Machine Age was well underway at this time and function became an important requirement again. The rounded, scroll, naturalistic motifs of Nouveau were replaced with geometric, angular and streamlined motifs like zigzags and chevrons (notice the difference in designs in the two lamp pictures above). Function was important, but not at the expense of beauty and decoration.

Art Deco Definition

To sum up, the Art Deco definition can be outlined as follows:
Art Deco is both a functional AND decorative artistic style that emerged in the early 1920s and influenced all forms of creative design. http://www.art-deco-style.com/art-deco-definition.html

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2003 exhibit showcased the global nature of the Deco style. See, Art Deco: Global Inspiration http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/art-deco-global-inspiration/


Art Services International DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920 – 1945 U.S. museum schedule http://www.asiexhibitions.org/Deco-Japan.html

Japan’s art deco interlude                                                                                                                                                                                           http://www.salon.com/2012/03/17/japans_art_deco_interlude/

An Urbane and Unexpected Leap From West to East                                                                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/arts/design/deco-japan-shaping-art-and-culture-at-japan-society.html?_r=1&

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Dr. Wilda Reviews art exhibit: ‘Hometown Boy: Liu Xiaodong’ at Seattle Art Museum

12 Sep

“You can’t go home again”

Thomas Wolfe

Moi was invited to a press briefing to preview the exhibit “Hometown Boy” at Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Here are the details:

Hometown Boy

Liu Xiaodong

Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park

August 31, 2013–June 29, 2014

SAAM Foster Galleries

Mr. Xiadong was present to answer questions with  translation provided by the curator, Josh Yiu. If moi had to characterize the exhibit, aside from intense paintings done in a commanding style with sure brush strokes and a piercing eye, she would say that Mr. Xiadong’s work presents two questions. The first, is can one really go home again? The second question which is probably more relevant in the current political and social climate, can an accomplished artist walk that tightrope between artistic expression and political acceptance?

Here is a bit about Mr. Xiaodong from Financial Times columnist Barnaby Martin in the article, Liu Xiaodong: life as he knows it:

When anyone mentions Chinese contemporary art, we have come to expect the wilder shores of conceptualism, performance or installation. But there is also another rich vein alive in Chinese art today: realism. Liu Xiaodong is a figurative Chinese artist based in Beijing, where he is also a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and for the next four weeks he will be working at a series of locations in and around the unglamorous setting of London’s Edgware Road. Last week he was in The Perseverance, a pub in Marylebone, where in the midst of the comings and goings of customers he painted the landlord and landlady and the chef. It had taken him two weeks to choose the location before he found what he was looking for: an emotional connection with the staff….

For more than three decades, Liu has been painting people. His canvases are large, often upwards of two metres square, and more often than not he paints people he knows in their homes or their place of work, or standing around in their neighbourhood. Sometimes he paints people he doesn’t know – as he is doing in London – but he first spends time getting to know them. He has been invited into the homes of the staff at the The Perseverance, has had dinner with them, smoked with them and walked their dogs.

This strong documentary urge reflects his interest in documentary cinema. Liu’s involvement in film extends to several credits as producer, a starring role in the 1993 Chinese indie hit The Days and the job of artistic director on Beijing Bastards the same year. Liu does not paint from his imagination, or from photographs, preferring to carve out “a set” from the corner of a pub, or a busy restaurant, or a side street in his hometown, and then direct his subjects….

Critics have compared his work to Lucian Freud’s, although Liu’s brushwork is, if anything, broader and more apparently casual than the late British master’s. Liu himself is quick to cite Cézanne as a major western influence. But his work, which is so often about his old friends, many of whom have been left behind by the post-Mao boom, overflows with poignancy in a way that is reminiscent of Arshile Gorky’s “The Artist and his Mother”. When I mention Gorky’s painting, Liu is voluble in his admiration for Gorky’s work….http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2f27e5bc-facd-11e2-87b9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2eiGj2eH5

See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Xiaodong

Although, Mr. Xiaodong went back to the town of his birth, he really did not go home again. He remained an observer, looking from a distance at the scenes that he might have one time been a participant long ago. This is a review written on the emotional level because the paintings provoke one emotionally as well as intellectually. There are layers of meaning.

So, far Mr. Xiaodong seems to be walking the tightrope between art and expression in a way that artists like Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich had difficulty navigating. During the press briefing Mr. Xiaodong was careful to emphasis that he was an observer and chronicler of events rather than a commentator. The work is intriguing and well done as far as artistic craftsmanship is concerned. The real story is perhaps the meaning the artist has inserted in subtle ways and the nuance that he hints at about how he feels about the world he survives in.

This is a strong recommend from Dr. Wilda Reviews.




Artists at the MFA: Liu Xiaodong


Here is the press release:

 CONTACT: Wendy Malloy, Seattle Art Museum P.R., 206-654-3158/ wendym@seattlearmuseum.org

Cara Egan, Seattle Art Museum P.R., 206-748-9285 / carae@seattleartmuseum.org


A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea

August 10, 2013-April 13, 2014, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park

SEATTLE – August, 2013 –In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) founding by Dr. Richard Fuller (1897-1976), the museum has organized an exhibition of 150 Chinese, Japanese and Korean masterpieces from the museum’s renowned Asian art collection. The exhibition, A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea, opens August 10 and will run until April 13, 2014 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Dr. Fuller acquired important works of Asian art during his 40 years as SAM’s founder and director, many of which will be on display for the first time in decades.

In this special exhibition, visitors will discover the stories behind Dr. Fuller’s Asian collection and learn how he inherited his keen eye for acquiring rare Asian art from his mother, Margaret MacTavish Fuller, and his means to buy art from his father Eugene Fuller, a surgeon and investor. As a young woman, Mrs. Fuller accompanied her own father on a trip around the world, an experience which instilled in her a lifelong passion for travelling and for Asian art in particular.

Dr. Fuller’s mother began collecting jades, snuff bottles, and ceramics through dealers in New York, where the family lived, and Europe. When Dr. Fuller was 22, the entire family traveled in Asia; his father paid for the trip and supplied each family member with a line of credit so that they could buy art. Like his mother, Dr. Fuller was particularly drawn to small collectibles; however, when he and his mother founded the Seattle Art Museum in 1933, he sought out monumental Chinese tomb sculpture to provide a grand entrance to the new museum building in Volunteer Park. At that time they donated works from their private collections to the new museum, and despite his avowal that the new institution should house a general collection, Dr. Fuller continued to collect more avidly in Chinese art than in any other area. The exhibition will also feature a Who Collected What and When section, highlighting the avid collectors and art patrons who have been key to the growth of the Seattle Art Museum from its beginning to today.

The Chinese gallery includes selections from the museum’s extensive collection. A geologist by training, Dr. Fuller had exceptional taste in Chinese jade and ceramics. The Fuller era also saw the formation of a small but choice collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy, in particular, the Buffalo and Herder Boy donated by Mrs. Thomas Stimson and the Hawk Pursuing a Pheasant donated by Mrs. Donald E. Frederick.

The Japanese section showcases many of Dr. Fuller’s major acquisitions of Japanese art. Notably, the rare fourth-century wheel-shaped jasper purchased in 1956 and donated by Dr. Fuller’s sister, Mrs. John Atwood. The Haniwa warrior sculpture—which Dr. Fuller called “the brother” of the one designated as a National Treasure in Japan—was acquired on his 1960 trip. Many of SAM’s exquisite Japanese works, such as the Poem Scroll with Deer, are also included in this section.

From the inception of the museum’s history, Dr. Fuller collected Korean art. Featured in this gallery is the magnificent 17th-century Buddhist painting, Preaching Buddha, flanked by two folding screens of the literati painting tradition: Plum Blossoms and Grapevines and Chipmunks. The cluster of metalware and ceramics—from bronze vases, to jade-like celadon ware, to striking Buncheong ware with iron-painted decoration—exemplify the fine craftsmanship and unique aesthetics of Korean art.

A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea is curated by Josh Yiu, former Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art at the Seattle Art Museum and Xiaojin Wu, Associate Curator for Japanese and Korean Art at the Seattle Art Museum.

This exhibition is organized by the Seattle Art Museum. The Presenting Sponsor is The Boeing Company. Patron Support provided by iCulture and the Katherine Agen Baillargeon Endowment. Additional Support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Mary Ann and Henry James Asian Art Endowment, the Pendleton & Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation and contributors to SAM’s Annual Fund. Official Airline Sponsor is Delta Air Lines.


Seattle Art Museum (SAM) provides a welcoming place for people to connect with art and to consider its relationship to their lives. SAM is one museum in three locations: SAM Downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. SAM collects, preserves and exhibits objects from across time and across cultures, exploring the dynamic connections between past and present.


Dr. Richard Fuller and his mother, Margaret Fuller, at the Museum entrance, 1933, Leonid Fink

Buffalo and Herder Boy, late 12th century, Chinese, artist unknown, album leaf, ink and color on silk, 9 7/8 x 11 1/8 in.. Thomas D. Stimson Memorial Collection, 48.208.

Poem Scroll with Deer,1610s, painting by Tawaraya Sotatsu, Japanese, 1576–1643, calligraphy by Hon’ami Koetsu, Japanese, 1558–1637, handscroll, ink, gold and silver on paper, 13 7/16 x 366 3/16 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Donald E. Frederick, 51.127. Photo: Seiji Shirono, National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.

Preaching Buddha, 17th century, Korean. hanging scroll, ink, color on hemp, 136 x 117 1/2 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 45.45.

Plum Blossoms in Moonlight, 19th century, Yi Gong U, Korean, eight-panel screen, ink and color on paper,43 x 10 15/16 in., Asian Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, 90.1.

Here is an image of Mr. Xiaodong’s work:


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