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The Kimbell Art Museum Exhibits Extensive Private Collection of Textiles, Ming Porcelain, Buddhist Art, and Jade

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Bodhisattva, Song dynasty-c. 1125. From dallasobserver.com
Bodhisattva, Song dynasty-c. 1125. From dallasobserver.com

The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas USA, is hosting an extensive exhibit featuring hundreds of objects and works from the private collection of Sam and Myrna Myers. The exhibition, titled From the Lands of Asia: The Sam and Myrna Myers Collection, highlights the couples passion for Asian art and showcases an impressive collection of objects from Central Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet and Vietnam, hailing from the Neolithic era to the present day.

The 450 items, displayed in four different galleries, titled Costumes and Customs, An Ocean of Porcelain, A Thousand Years of Buddhism, and The Magic of Jade, include Buddhist art, ceramics, ivory, jade and other precious stones, textiles, and traditional costumes. The items were selected from the collection of Sam Myers and his late wife, Myrna, an American couple who have collected over 5,000 pieces of art while living and travelling in Europe and Asia over five decades.  Their journey as collectors started with four Greek terracotta heads, which are displayed as the opening pieces of the exhibit.

“In terms of the number of objects in the show, this is the largest exhibition ever presented by the Kimbell,” said Jennifer Price, Asian art curator at the Kimbell Art Museum. (Star-telegram.com)

Eric Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum, described the exhibit as “a rich, complex and magical tapestry – a panoramic history of Asian cultures from ancient times to modern days.” (Dallas Observer)

Chapin (19th-20th century), Uzbekistan. From star-telegram.com
Chapin (19th-20th century), Uzbekistan. From star-telegram.com

The first gallery, Costumes and Customs, consists of a rich collection of elaborate robes and kimonos with impressive colours and designs. It houses the first robe from a Uzbek chieftain, one of Myers’ favourite items in the exhibition. “Not unlike today, what you wear kind of reflects who you are, your status, your wealth and your taste,” commented Price. “That’s always been the case in Asia.” (Dallas Observer)

“Like textiles, porcelain was also symbols of trade, commerce and diplomacy,” Price noted. (Dallas Observer) And the second gallery, An Ocean of Porcelain, displays the large variety of blue-and-white porcelain produced in China during the 14th to 17th century.

The third gallery, A Thousand Years of Buddhism, displays objects from Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan. It traces the journey of Buddhism from Northern India to China, Tibet, Korea, and Japan. The objects here displayed show how all these different localities and cultures who adopted Buddhism, created their own Buddhist art, ranging from textiles, statues, thangkas, and mandalas, combining religious motifs with the local aesthetic and artisan materials.  Walking around the exhibit Myers noted how the gallery seemed to imbue a sense of serenity and spirituality, showcasing his collection in a new light:  “I’m thrilled that it is here,” said Myers, “We look at these pieces differently, because we lived with a lot of this stuff. When you see a piece like the “Bodhisattva” [a painted wood carving] actually presented with proper light so you can really see it, it is really breath taking.” (Star-telegram.com)

Sam and Myrna Myers Sam in New York City in 2003. From star-telegram.com
Sam and Myrna Myers Sam in New York City in 2003. From star-telegram.com

The fourth gallery, titled The Magic of Jade, features a selection of Chinese jades from what Price described as “the most comprehensive collection of Chinese jade in private hands.” (Star-telegram.com) Describing the items on display, Price mentions, “For the Chinese, jade is the most precious material, more precious than gold or silver. A lot of people think jade is just green, but in fact it is not.” (Dallas Observer) And indeed the exhibit houses items carved from blue, green, brown, and yellow jade. Jade is attributed protective properties and even the smallest pieces would be used to make ritual tools and objects, royal insignia, ornaments, sculptures, and funeral attire.

The exhibit, which will run until 19 August, combines the stories of Asian art, religion, and culture, with the story of the Myers and their growth as collectors. It is the largest exhibit to ever be hosted at the Kimbell Art Museum, due to the sheer number of items on display.

See more

Kimbell’s From the Lands of Asia Exhibit Features Textiles, Ming Porcelain, Buddhist Art and Jade (Dallas Observer)
Massive exhibit at Kimbell captures couple’s zeal for collecting, scope of Asian art (Star-telegram.com)
From the Lands of Asia: The Sam and Myrna Myers Collection (Artsy.net)
The Lands of Asia Come to the Kimbell (Patron)
One of the world’s most significant collections of Asian art makes its US debut at the Kimbell Art Museum (Kimbell Art Museum)

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