Thursday, December 18, 2008
Famous and Forgotten Asian American Artists
An exhibit of obscure and mostly forgotten Asian American artists from 1900-1970 turned out to be the real surprise at the de Young Museum on Tuesday.
Though the works span different mediums in every kind of style, incorporating elements from their home cultures in some cases and not at all in others, what binds most of the work together is its sheer quality. Ruth Asawa was the only name I recognized, and the exhibit made me want to see more of these mostly forgotten artists. (Are you reading, Asian Art Museum?)
Special thanks should go to the co-curators, Daniell Cornell, from the Palm Springs Museum of Art, and Mark Johnson, a professor of art at San Francisco State University.
As usual, photography was not allowed in the "special" galleries in the basement so you'll just have to take my word about the Asian American exhibit. It's running concurrently with a group of wood and wire sculptures that mime natural topography by Vietnam Veterans Memorial architect Maya Lin.
"2x4 Landscape," in the photos above, has been installed in the soulless Dede Wilsey Airline Terminal lobby, and it helps to give the space a bit of warmth...
...and it actually looks good with the fuzzy Richter piece on the wall behind it.
The biggest problem with many of the works in the basement was that they really invited touching, but there were surly faced security guards everywhere making sure that any sensual experience was strictly non-tactile. It felt a bit like prison.