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Asian Art Museum Turns 50

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Currently on view at the Asian Art Museum, celebrating the museum’s 50th anniversary, is a trio of special exhibitions that provide a fascinating window into past traditions and views of the world.


Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts presents the personal stories of a writer, a painter, and a patron, who lived in Mughal India, Persia, and Turkey, respectively, within the time frame of the 16th to 18th century. Through 64 exquisite artworks, including illuminated manuscripts, beautiful carpets and jeweled writing instruments, you get a rare glimpse of these three influential individuals and their worlds.


China at the Center presents the Ricci and Verbiest maps, two large and extremely rare 400-year-old woodblock-printed maps of the world. A computer-based touchscreen is included in the exhibit to enhance interpretation of these marvelous works.

Hidden Gold: Mining It’s Meaning in Asian Art presents works from the museum’s collection that feature gold and it’s expression of longevity, beauty and power. Spanning 1500 years of history and diverse Asian cultures, 50 artworks are on view. There’s a Daoist ceremonial robe with cosmic symbols embroidered in gold threads on silk. There’s a 12-panel Japanese screen with images of pheasants and pine trees, done in ink on paper with gold leaf. I loved seeing both sides of a Tibetan thangka, with the intricately painted front side and the simple handprints of the artist on the reverse.

I am always amazed when I go to the Asian Art Museum—amazed and humbled—seeing works of antiquity of such striking physical presence and rich symbolism. Don’t miss these three amazing exhibitions, on view through May 8.

Images

Pearls on a String:

AAM Pearls on a String Khamsa frontispiece EX2016.2.20_01

Illuminated frontispiece, from the Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi, 1597–1598, attributed to Husayn Naqqash (Indian). Opaque watercolors and ink on paper. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Acquired by Henry Walters, W.624.42a. Photograph © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

China at the Center:

A Complete Map of the World, (detail) 1674, by Ferdinand Verbiest (Flemish, 1623–1688). China; Beijing. Ink on paper. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington D.C., G3200 1674.V4.

AAM Hidden Gold Bridal Robe 2005.65.a-b_01 -

Bridal robe, 2002, by Han Sang-soo (Korean, b. 1934). Silk embroidered with silk and gold thread. Courtesy of Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Acquisition made possible by David and Margo Buchanan, 2005.65.a-.b. © Han Sang-soo. Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

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