BOSTON COLLEGE McMULLEN MUSEUM PRESENTS
Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America
February 6–June 6, 2010
Exclusive Traveling Venue of Asia Society
Features Outstanding Works from Renowned Rockefeller
Contact: (not for publication)
HILL, MA (12-09) — The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College
is the exclusive traveling venue for the acclaimed exhibition Asian
Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America (http://sites.asiasociety.org/asian
will be on display from February 6 through June 6, 2010. Organized by
the Asia Society Museum in New York, where it debuted last February,
it features some of the most outstanding works from the museum’s
renowned permanent collection, The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller
The exhibition examines the intersection of history,
international relations, personal relationships and art collecting through
a rich display of exceptional objects from Asia Society’s jewel-like
permanent collection, according to exhibition organizers.
It explores the sociopolitical context for American collecting of Asian
Art in the post–World War II period with a focus on the collecting
practice of John D. Rockefeller 3rd (JDR 3rd, 1906–1978, the son
of collectors John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller),
and his wife, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller (1909–1992).
From 1963 to 1978, they worked with legendary art historian Sherman
E. Lee (1918–2008, a former director of the Cleveland Museum of
Art) to assemble one of the most spectacular private collections of
Asian art in the US, according to Asia Society publicity materials.
A diplomat and founder of Asia Society, JDR 3rd played a leading role
in fostering cultural understanding and cooperation between Asia and
America; his focus on Asian art and selection of objects for his collection
were tied directly to the politics of the world in which he lived. Through
their support of Asian art and culture, the Rockefellers hoped they
would have a direct impact on international relations.
“The McMullen is pleased to offer New Englanders the opportunity
to view this group of Asian masterpieces,” says McMullen Museum
Director and Professor of Art History Nancy Netzer. “Through the
research and ingenuity of the exhibition’s curator, the works
emerge in the exhibition as integral components of JDR 3rd’s plan
to forge new diplomatic relationships between the US and Asia following
World War II. The McMullen is equally privileged to place JDR 3rd’s
undertaking within the context of the earlier history of Rockefeller
acquisitions of Asian art by displaying original photographs of their
installations by artist Mary Louise Pierson.”
“Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Dr. Sherman E. Lee and
the extraordinary times they lived in provide us with intriguing subject
matter for a study of the symbiotic connections between international
politics, art collecting, and art history,” according to Adriana
Proser, Asia Society’s John H. Foster Curator for Traditional
Asian Art, who curated the exhibition with Asia Society Museum Getty
Fellows Jacqueline Ganem and Daisy Yiyou Wang.
“This exhibition features a selection of some of the most outstanding
pieces from Asia Society Museum’s renowned Rockefeller Collection,
each of which has the power to deeply move the viewer on a purely visceral
level,” she adds. “I hope visitors will be impressed with
the aesthetic prowess of the artist who created the works, but will
also be challenged to think about the role of American and Asian international
relations in the history of art collecting and the understanding of
Asian art history in the United States.”
[MEDIA NOTE: Jpg/Tiff images available upon request from the
McMullen Museum: contact Mary Curran at 617.552.4676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A slideshow of images and more exhibition details are available at www.bc.edu/artmuseum]
Public Opening Celebration: Monday February 8, 7-9 p.m.
8, the public is invited to join BC community members at a free opening celebration
at the Museum from 7 to 9 p.m., featuring music from the 1950s and ’60s
performed by University jazz ensemble BC bOp! Location: Devlin Hall 108. For
information please call 617.552.8587. A black-tie opening for invited guests
also will be hosted by the McMullen Museum and its Patrons.
Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America
The exhibition presents 56 works of art from Asian cultures, ranging
from the late 6th century CE to the early 19th century CE, and features
monumental sculpture and ceramic works from China, Japan, India, Nepal,
Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Tibet. On display: archival
material from the Rockefeller Archive in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and original
photography by Mary Louise Pierson, granddaughter of Nelson A. Rockefeller
(1908–1979), featuring interiors of Kykuit, the Rockefeller
estate in the Hudson Valley, and views of the Eyrie Asian garden in
Seal Harbor, Me.
Introduction: Attributes JDR 3rd’s
interest in Asian art to his experience growing up surrounded by his
parents’ collection of Asian art, and working on US-Asia political
relations after World War II. His desire to foster cultural understanding
between the United States and Asia influenced his acquisition decisions.
Identifies Lee’s integral role in building the collection.
Section One: The Advisor: Sherman
E. Lee and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd: Defines
Lee’s influence as an advisor to the Rockefellers, helping
them develop a collecting philosophy and assemble one of the most
spectacular private collections of Asian art in the United States.
Identifies the integral role the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
plays at Asia Society in fostering its mission of promoting understanding
among people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and
Asia. Section features four premier objects in the collection that
exemplify the range and quality of the works Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd
collected with Lee’s advice.
Section Two: Cultural Diplomacy
in Japan and Japanese Taste: Focuses on the work of
JDR 3rd and Lee in Japan during the post-war years. Working in the
Arts and Monuments Division under the Supreme Commander for the
Allied Powers, Lee inventoried major Japanese collections of art
throughout the country and formed relationships with a number of
influential Japanese art historians and art dealers from whom he
purchased objects for American collections. Serving as president
of Japan Society, JDR 3rd promoted the loan of exhibitions from
Japan to the United States. Section displays a variety of Japanese
ceramic objects, a wooden bodhisattva, and other works acquired
by Japanese collectors.
Section Three: Chinese Civil Strife and the International
Art Market: Places Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd’s acquisitions
of Chinese ceramics within the larger collecting patterns of Chinese
art in the United States. JDR 3rd and Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller
focused their efforts on finding great Chinese ceramics, acquiring
works from China’s most illustrious production periods, including
the Song, Ming, and Qing periods. In contrast to many earlier American
collectors, the Rockefellers chose works suggestive of the influence
of traditional Chinese and Japanese connoisseurship and taste. Section
presents a range of Chinese ceramic forms.
Section Four: The Rise of South
Asian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art Collecting: Explores
Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd’s acquisitions of South Asian art within
the context of the rising interest of American collectors in works
of this region. JDR 3rd’s interests in collecting and promoting
the art and culture of this region were an extension of his commitment
to solving Asia’s profound problems related to population
growth and agricultural development. Section displays monumental
sculpture of the region.
Section Five: Legacy: Places
Mr. and Mrs. JDR 3rd’s collection within the context of the earlier
Rockefeller acquisitions of Asian art. Photographs from the Rockefeller
archives feature family members in Asia as well as their homes and offices
decorated with Asian collections. Photographs by artist Mary Louise
Pierson, granddaughter of Nelson Rockefeller, depict original installations
of the family’s Asian art collections at two Rockefeller estates.
McMullen Museum Installation
Installation by McMullen Museum exhibition designer Diana Larsen; text
design by McMullen graphic designer John McCoy. Labels and wall texts
written by Proser with Ganem and Wang. Works by Mary Louise Pierson
in the presentation selected by Larsen.
Accompanying Programming (details/updated information at www.bc.edu/artmuseum)
Lectures: Thurs., February 4, 2010, 7:30-9
p.m.: Vishakha N. Desai, President and CEO, Asia Society, New York.
[Title: The Asia Society, New York: John D. Rockefeller 3rd’s
Vision to integrate, culture, commerce, and current affairs.]
Location: Devlin Hall 101; event sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series
and the Institute for the Liberal Arts; admission: free; for information
please call 617.552.8587.
Wed., April 7, 2010, 4:30-6 p.m.: James Hevia; professor, International
History of the New Collegiate Division; director, International Studies
Program; University of Chicago. [Title: Whose Art is it Anyway?
The Continuing Saga of Summer Palace Loot] Location: Devlin Hall
101; event sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series and the Institute for the
Liberal Arts; admission: free; for information please call 617.552.8587.
Mon., April 26, 2010, 4:30-6 p.m.: Lecture by Andy Rotman, associate
professor of Religion, Smith College. Location: Devlin Hall 101; event
sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series and the Institute for the Liberal
Arts; admission: free; for information please call 617.552.8587.
Asian Journeys: Collecting Art in Post-war America was organized
by the Asia Society, New York. Presentation at the McMullen Museum
has been underwritten by Boston College and the Patrons of the Museum.
In conjunction with the presentation, the book A Passion for Asia:
The Rockefeller Legacy (Asia Society: Hudson Hills, NY, 2006)
will be available for purchase.
McMullen Museum of Art
The McMullen Museum is renowned for organizing interdisciplinary exhibitions
that ask new questions and break new ground in the display and scholarship
of the works on view. It serves as a dynamic educational resource
for all of New England as well as the national and international community.
The Museum mounts exhibitions of international scholarly importance
from all periods and cultures of the history of art. In keeping with
the University’s central teaching mission, the Museum’s
exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues and related public
programs. The McMullen Museum of Art was named in 1996 by the late
Boston College benefactor, trustee and art collector John J. McMullen
and his wife, Jacqueline McMullen.
Museum organizes exhibitions of both traditional and contemporary art and showcases
masterpieces from its permanent collection, the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller
3rd Collection. The Rockefeller Collection contains objects from cultures ranging
from Pakistan to Japan and Java, from 1000 BCE to the 19th century, with strengths
in Chinese ceramics of the Song and Ming periods, Chola-period Indian bronzes
and Southeast Asian sculptures. Through exhibitions and related public programs,
Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both
traditional and contemporary Asian art.
Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonprofit
nonpartisan educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston,
Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Seoul,
Shanghai and Washington, D.C. For more information visit www.AsiaSociety.org
McMullen Museum Hours and Tours
Admission is free; handicapped accessible and open to the public. Located
in Devlin Hall on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus, 140 Commonwealth
Avenue. Hours during this exhibition: Monday through
Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Extended
hours: Sat., May 22 and Sun., May 23: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.;
Mon., May 24: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Fri., June 4, Sat., June 5 and
Sun., June 6: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. The Museum will be closed
on: Fri., April 2; Sun. April 4; Mon., April 19; Mon., May
31. Free group tours: Sundays at 2 p.m., Feb. 14
through June 6. Tours also may be arranged upon request by calling
617.552.8587. For directions, parking and information on public programs,
visit www.bc.edu/artmuseum or