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Asia Society Presents

Thirteen Dynamic New York Collectors of Asian Art
Exhibit Their Most Cherished Acquisitions Alongside
Select Objects from the Asia Society’s Permanent Collection in
Collectors’ Choice

February 27 through August 26, 2007


The Asia Society presents Collectors’ Choice, an exhibition of cherished objects from the private collections of thirteen of the country’s leading Asian art collectors from February 27 through August 26, 2007. Approximately fifty extraordinary works of sculpture, ceramic, and painting from Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Gandhara (present-day Pakistan/Afganistan), Japan, Kashmir, India, Thailand and Tibet, which range in date from the second to eighteenth century, will be presented alongside selected objects from the Asia Society’s Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection.

The diverse group of contributing collectors to this exhibition include Renee and Robert Beningson Family, Susan L. Beningson, Mary Griggs Burke, Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee, Robert Ellsworth, Ron Lawrence and Julie Goodale, Andrew and Denise Saul, and Jane and Leopold Swergold. “We invited these dynamic art enthusiasts, self-taught connoisseurs and scholars of Asian art who live in the greater New York area to take part in this exhibition for the strength of their Pan Asian collections and also because of the diversity of ‘stories’ their lives as collectors could tell,” says Melissa Chiu, Director of the Museum, Asia Society.

This exhibition is unique in its focus on the collectors and their motivations and passions for acquiring art. It gives a voice to distinctive collecting practices and explores how these important collections are shaped according to specific tastes or chance experiences. For musicians Ron Lawrence and Julie Goodale, who began collecting Himalayan art about six years ago, it is the lyrical or unspoken quality of their paintings that they find most evocative.  “If you sit and watch the Tathagata (Buddhist painting) in the afternoon light, the painting will move, it will interact with the light and even in the dark…I think that the artists had this in mind. The paintings are vehicles for the sublime,” said Ron Lawrence. For Amita Chatterjee, “There has been no scholarship involved in this process of collection…it is all about falling in love; it’s never about filling in a gap. It has to be about the immediacy of the relationship with the object.”

As a group, the thirteen collectors that have contributed their stories and collections to Collectors’ Choice represent a new era in the discerning collection of important art objects. “While exploring Asia does not have the exotic overtones it once did in the nineteenth century, today’s collectors face great challenges in locating significant artworks for sale and in taking risks on objects that need extensive conservation,” says Adriana Proser, Asia Society’s John H. Foster Curator of Traditional Asian Art who curated the exhibition in association with Kristy Phillips, Asia Society Museum Fellow. “In addition to years of refined connoisseurship, each of the collectors featured in Collectors’ Choice is known for having a practiced eye for beauty, authenticity, and a good deal.” The outstanding collections of Asian art objects on display in this exhibition reflect the controlled study, characters, individual experiences and fascinating chance encounters of these dynamic collectors.

These top collectors together with the exhibition curators carefully selected masterpieces from the Asia Society’s Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection to accompany pieces from their own collections. “Collectors chose pieces that they were drawn to and thought would work well, for one reason or another, with pieces from their own collections,” says Adriana Proser. “The Rockefeller pieces help to highlight pieces from their own collections and visa versa.” Amassed by John D. Rockefeller 3rd and his wife, Blanchette, and bequeathed to Asia Society in 1978, the Asia Society’s permanent collection served as a source of inspiration to collectors like Andrew and Denise Saul and Robert Ellsworth who have a similar passion for Chinese ceramics.

Other Exhibitions on View at the Asia Society

February 14–May 20, 2007

Approximately 75 works from European and American collections showing the splendor of court arts from this vast empire. Organized by the City of Paris, Musée Cernuschi and Paris Musées in association with Asia Society. Curated by Françoise Demange, Musée du Louvre. Curatorial consultants, Prudence O. Harper and Michael Chagnon.

Free Fish >–:► The Art of Yuken Teruya
February 20–April 29, 2007

Yuken Teruya’s first solo museum presentation which includes a newly commissioned installation inspired by a Ming-dynasty Chinese porcelain jar selected from Asia Society’s Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. Curated by Miwako Tezuka, Assistant Curator, Asia Society in association with Yang Yingshi, Asia Society Museum Fellow.

About the Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading global organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States. We seek to enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture. Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C. 

Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City
The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Closed Monday. General admission is $10, seniors $7, students $5 and free for members and persons under 16. Free admission Fridays, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. 

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