National Tour to Showcase Extraordinary Range of Asian Art

New York, NY (October 22, 2019) The American Federation of Arts is pleased to announce the national tour of Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at Asia Society will commence in March 2020. The exhibition presents nearly seventy of the finest examples of Asian art in the United States. Co-organized by the American Federation of Arts and Asia Society Museum, this exhibition will showcase the extraordinary range of bronzes, ceramics, and metalwork that John D. Rockefeller 3rd (1906–1978) and his wife Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller (1909–1992) thoughtfully assembled between the 1940s and the 1970s. With highlights including spectacular Chinese vases, dynamic Indian Chola bronzes, and exquisite Southeast Asian sculptures, the exhibition reveals great achievements in Asian art spanning more than two millennia. This selection of masterpieces drawn from Asia Society’s permanent collection is a visually stunning presentation that will illuminate social and artistic histories from across Asia and underscore the visual arts’ capacity to encourage cross-cultural dialogue.

The exhibition will be presented at the New Orleans Museum of Art (March 6, 2020 – May 30, 2021; inclusive of extended dates due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic) and travel the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX (June 25 – September 19, 2021); the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC (October 8, 2021 – January 9, 2022); and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville, FL (June 25 – September 18, 2022).

“The masterpieces of Asian artwork in this show affirm the power of the visual arts to create bridges between societies and time periods. We are honored to partner with our colleagues at Asia Society to bring this exhibition to audiences across the American south, where the breathtaking sculptures, ceramics, and metalworks will offer new insights into the extraordinary and diverse artistic practices from across Asian history, and strengthen the bonds of cultural understanding in our own time.”

– Pauline Willis, Director & CEO, American Federation of Arts

“At a moment in history when the long-established ties between East and West are being tested, this exhibition provides a window into Asia. Through these unparalleled artworks, the American public can better understand the soul of the great civilizations of Asia and how it has enriched human experience.”

– Boon Hui Tan, Vice President for Global Arts and Cultural Programs, Director of Asia Society Museum, New York

“John D. Rockefeller 3rd and Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller created this outstanding collection precisely because they wanted other Americans to have the privilege of experiencing it in person. You cannot help but be awed by Asia and its history when you behold these works.”

– Adriana Proser, John H. Foster Senior Curator of Traditional Asian Art at Asia Society Museum, New York

When John D. Rockefeller 3rd and his wife Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller began collecting Asian art in the years after World War II, they chose to prioritize classical masterpieces that represented the great technical skill and creative breadth of Asian artistic practice. From the start, the couple believed that sharing this grouping of exceptional artworks with the public could act as a catalyst for increasing understanding between the United States and Asia, and create the foundation for future economic and sociopolitical engagement. They selected objects from across the continent—Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet, and Vietnam–ranging from everyday food wares to Imperial dining vessels and ceremonial Bodhisattvas to private devotional Hindu sculptures. These artworks come from a range of cultural contexts and reflect the diversity of the region and its vast artistic achievements.

This exhibition represents a special opportunity for museum visitors to experience the unparalleled quality of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection outside of its home at Asia Society Museum in New York City. In addition to investigating themes of Buddhist sculpture, Hindu sculpture, and ceramics and metalwork, the show also examines the Rockefellers’ connoisseurship as well as their collecting and exhibition practices in an age when political and economic circumstances informed the reception and availability of Asian artworks in the United States. With an emphasis on beauty, ingenuity, and tradition, Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at Asia Society manifests the dynamic ideas and philosophies that animate histories of Asian art and renews the Rockefellers’ vision of promoting deep cross-cultural understanding through experiences with astonishing works of art.

This exhibition is co-organized by the American Federation of Arts and Asia Society Museum.

The national tour of the exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at Asia Society is curated by Adriana Proser, the Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Quincy Scott Curator of Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum and the former John H. Foster Curator for Traditional Asian Art at Asia Society Museum.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, including an essay by Adriana Proser on the history of the Rockefeller’s collecting of Asian art, as well as a plates section with brief explanatory texts on individual works in the exhibition.

The American Federation of Arts is the leader in traveling exhibitions internationally. A nonprofit institution founded in 1909, the AFA is dedicated to enriching the public’s experience and understanding of the visual arts through organizing and touring art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishing exhibition catalogues featuring important scholarly research, and developing educational programs.

Asia Society Museum presents a wide range of traditional, modern, and contemporary exhibitions of Asian and Asian American art, taking new approaches to familiar masterpieces and introducing under-recognized arts and artists. The Asia Society Museum Collection comprises a traditional art collection, including the initial bequests of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, and a contemporary art collection. Through exhibitions and public programs, Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both traditional and contemporary Asian art, and in Asia today.

About the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
It was the conviction that art is central to cross-cultural understanding between Americans and Asians that prompted John D. Rockefeller 3rd to found Asia Society in 1956. The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection was bequeathed to Asia Society in 1979 after the death of Mr. Rockefeller. The collection continues to grow and, in 2007, expanded to include contemporary works and today features  over 100 significant works of video, animation, photography, calligraphy, works on paper, mixed media works, and new media art by artists from Asia and the Americas.

Press contact: Shawna Gallancy, / 212.988.7700 x 205.


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