NEW YORK – Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and Ted Lipman, chief executive officer of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, Tuesday announced the inauguration of an initiative to advance the achievements of contemporary Chinese artists and expand the discourse on contemporary Chinese art. Made possible by a major grant to the Guggenheim from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, the new program will enable the commissioning of artworks by artists who were born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macao, and the creation of a curatorial position at the Guggenheim for a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art.
As part of the initiative, the Guggenheim will commission major works from at least three artists or a group of artists that will enter the Guggenheim’s permanent collection as the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collection. The commissions will be exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in three exhibitions from 2014 through 2017, and a rich offering of publications, lecture series, education programs, and public interactions with the artists will be developed for each. The initiative was conceived to support the Guggenheim’s existing Asian Art Program led by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung senior curator, Asian Art, and will enlarge the institution’s related global arts initiatives.
“Over the past 20 years, the Guggenheim has helped to envision and realize the continually evolving potential of a global art museum for our era,” Richard Armstrong stated. “We created exceptional possibilities for the Guggenheim when we inaugurated the Asian Art Program in 2006, becoming the first U.S. museum of modern and contemporary art with dedicated curatorial expertise in Asian art. We are proud to build on that and our related global arts programs by joining with such a distinguished organization, The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, to expand long-term international awareness and appreciation of contemporary Chinese art and culture, beginning with direct commissions of artists themselves. For this, all of us at the Guggenheim are deeply grateful to the Foundation.”
“Our Foundation focuses much of our philanthropy on Chinese and Buddhist visual art and culture, from ancient to contemporary,” said Robert Y.C. Ho, chairman of the board. “Working with the Guggenheim, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation seeks to foster new creativity in the field of contemporary Chinese art. The thoughtful presentation of new works commissioned for this collection should contribute to the wider critical appreciation of Chinese contemporary art in a global cultural context.”
“Within less than a decade of its founding, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has worked with other institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Palace Museum in Beijing,” Ted Lipman stated. “For this ambitious and expansive program for contemporary Chinese art, we welcomed a partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, which shares our belief that the power of art can inspire, enlighten, and ultimately contribute to the betterment of communities in an era of rapid globalization. Through its Asian Art Program, the Guggenheim has demonstrated that it also seeks to explore the complexities of Chinese art today and offer an intellectual framework for it within an international context.”
This is the third and most ambitious project in which The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has participated with the Guggenheim. The Foundation was previously the lead sponsor of the Guggenheim’s 2008 exhibition “Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe” and supported the 2009 exhibition “The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860—1989,” both award-winning projects.
Central to the program will be the work of Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis, who has been selected to serve as the future Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation curator of Chinese Art. An eminent scholar of Chinese and Southeast Asian art, Berghuis serves at the University of Sydney as a Lecturer in Asian Art History and Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Asian Art and Archeology; he also serves as a committee member of the university’s China Studies Centre, and as a member of its Sydney Southeast Asian Studies Centre. His writings have been published in prominent journals and art magazines, including Art Review UK, Art Asia Pacific, C-Arts, Positions: East Asian Cultures Critique, and Third Text. Dr. Berghuis has curated several exhibitions of contemporary Asian art, including “Suspended Histories at the Museum van Loon, Amsterdam” (2013). He is the author of Performance Art in China (2006), the first major art-historical study on performance art in China.
“I am looking forward to working with artists, critics, and museum colleagues in China to further the understanding and appreciation of contemporary Chinese art within a broad global art context,” said Berghuis. “The Guggenheim offers a tremendous platform to advance the most innovative practices in greater China today.”
Berghuis will work in consultation with Alexandra Munroe and the Guggenheim’s curatorial team to identify artists for commissioned projects, and to develop exhibitions and related programs. He will also become an integral part of the curatorial department while strengthening its intellectual and collegial network among the Chinese-art community. For each commission, the Guggenheim will conduct in-depth research to identify critical topics, significant talent, and trends in contemporary Chinese art and discourse and more broadly, transnational art studies.
Alexandra Munroe commented, “The Guggenheim sees the continuing augmentation of its holdings as the cornerstone of its Asian Art Program. In order to establish a truly global collection in the twenty-first century, the Guggenheim must nourish its current holdings of American and European art with masterworks of modern and contemporary Asian art. The approach adopted is one of integration rather than segregation—the Asian art holdings will be seen within a larger matrix of world art history, bringing their unique aesthetics, philosophies, conceptual methodologies, politics, and rich inheritances to the fore. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation partnership aims to build the Guggenheim’s Chinese art holdings while contributing to both Chinese and international scholarship in the field.”
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