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Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing's Phoenix Project
Now - September 2, 2013
Chinese artist Xu Bing spent more than two years creating his newest work, Phoenix Project, a massive installation on view at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). At once strange and fiercely beautiful, the installation comprises two birds fabricated entirely from materials found at construction sites in Beijing. While the sculpture itself remains at MASS MoCA, this Sackler exhibition traces the evolution of Phoenix Project and features materials used to plan the work, including drawings, scale models, and reconfigured construction fragments. Also on view are related objects selected by the artist from the Freer and Sackler collections.
Hand-held: Gerhard Pulverer's Japanese Illustrated Books
Now - August 11, 2013
Japanese woodblock-printed illustrated books (ehon) were key sources of knowledge and entertainment during the Edo period (1615–1868). Artists and writers created many designs for these books, and the compact, paper-bound volumes circulated widely. In a striking change from the past, when books were primarily reserved for the elite, the beautiful, intriguing, and humorous subjects in ehon brought reading to the masses. Organized by subject matter from classical Japanese literature to how-to manuals on popular interests of the time, Utamaro’s exquisite Shell book (Shiohi no tsuto) and such other fine art books as Hokusai’s best-selling Manga are highlights from the Gerhard Pulverer Collection. The Pulverer Collection, purchased in its entirety in 2007 by the Freer Gallery, includes some of the rarest examples of the Edo period's most famous illustrated books outside Japan.
One Man's Search for Ancient China: The Paul Singer Collection
Now - July 7, 2013
Sublevel 1 (Verver Galleries)
Collector and scholar Paul Singer (1904-1997) once packed 5,000 objects into his small apartment. Singer's bequest to the Sackler Gallery created one of the largest and most signficant Chinese archaeological collections in the US. In this exhibition, landmark archaeological discoveries shed new light on his acquisitions and on life in ancient China. Highlights include an early bronze plaque with exquisite turquoise inlay; jade and stone objects that closely resemble those found in the tomb of the royal consort Fu Hao dating to the 13th century BCE; 2,000-year-old human hair pieces; and rare and amusing figurines and miniature vessels.
Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran
Sublevel 1, Galleries connecting Freer & Sackler Galleries
In celebration of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's 25th anniversary, a selection from the Freer and Sackler's extraordinary collection of luxury metalwork from ancient Iran -- an area extending from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to present-day Afghanistan -- is on view. This display explores the artistic and technical characteristics of these objects. Featured are works ranging in shape from deep bowls and footed plates to elaborate drinking vessels ending in animal forms, known in Greek as rython, that are largely associated with court ceremonies and rituals. Others, decorated with such royal imagery as hunting or enthronement scenes, were probably intended as gifts to foreign and local dignitaries. Depictions of kings and their royal attributes and pastimes helped define the power and identity of ancient Iranian royalty, whose rule continued well after the arrival of Islam in the 7th century.
Reinventing the Wheel: Japanese Ceramics 1930-2000
The Sackler collection represents significant trends in Japanese ceramics since the 1930s, when traditional workshop masters took on new roles as studio potters alongside artists in other media. Potters at regional kilns revived ancient firing and glazing technology for use in expressive new vessel forms. In postwar Kyoto, ceramic artists departed from conventional ideas of function to create sculptural forms. Today's potters sample at will from these trends, blending meticulous skill with daring reinterpretations of shapes and materials.This installation of highlights works by legendary Living National Treasures to young virtuosos of the present day.
Sculpture of South Asia and the Himalayas
On view are Hindu stone, bronze, brass, and terra-cotta sculptures from South India, dating from the 10th century through the 18th century. Highlights range from a majestic stone image of Shiva Dakshinamurti (Lord of the South) to a fierce gilded bronze of Palden Lhamo, the deity who protects Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Also on view is the beloved elephant-headed deity Ganesh, who is the god of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles.
The Arts of China
A variety of of objects highlighting the Sackler Gallery's permanent holdings of Chinese art are on view. Much of the exhibition is dedicated to a comprehensive group of ancient jades and bronzes that spans more than three thousand years, from the Stone Age to the dawn of China's imperial period. Also on display are works from much later periods -- paintings, calligraphy, and decorative objects that represent the refined tastes of imperial and aristocratic patrons. Early Chinese Buddhist art installation includes wall murals painted for the cave chapels at Kizil, a site in central Asia that participated in the east-west exchanges of the Silk Road .