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Conversation with Asia Society's Vishakha Desai

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Asian Journeys explores the sociopolitical context for American collecting of Asian art in the post- World War II period with focus on the collecting practice of John D. Rockefeller 3rd (1906–1978) and his wife Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller (1909–1992). Founder of Asia Society and son of collectors John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller 3rd played an instrumental role in fostering cultural understanding and cooperation between Asia and America. From 1963 to 1978, art historian and director of the Cleveland Museum, Sherman E. Lee (1918–2008), served as an advisor to the Rockefellers’ collection. The relationship among them, explored in this exhibition, is an extraordinary example of the connections between art collecting and U.S.-Asia relations.

Curated by Adriana Proser, John H. Foster Curator of Traditional Asian Art at Asia Society, the exhibition comprises fifty-six outstanding stone, metal, and ceramic objects from China, Japan, and Southeast Asia from the collection that John D. Rockefeller 3rd and Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller donated to Asia Society. These works are complemented by a series of original photographs of earlier Rockefeller collections of Asian art by artist (and great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Abby Rockefeller) Mary Louise Pierson.

Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America was organized by Asia Society Museum, New York. Presentation at the McMullen Museum was designed by Diana Larsen and underwritten by Boston College with support from the Patrons of the McMullen Museum.