The Freer|Sackler Gallery is exhibiting Hokusai: Mad about Painting, thru November 2020.The Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), who produced thousands of works throughout his long life, is widely recognized for a single image—Great Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa, which is “an icon of global art.” Charles Lang Freer “recognized the artist’s vast abilities before many other collectors, and he assembled the world’s largest collection of paintings, sketches, and drawings by Hokusai.” The exhibition commemorates the centennial of Freer’s death in 1919, and also celebrates the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. The exhibition includes six-panel folding screens, hanging scrolls, paintings and drawings. The show also includes rare hanshita-e, which are drawings for woodblock prints that were adhered to the wood and frequently destroyed in the process of carving the block prior to printing. The many featured works include Hokusai’s manga - his often-humorous renderings of everyday life in Japan.
The Freer|Sackler Gallery is exhibiting Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Contemplation and Connection, thru November 2020.Wilmer is best known for his tonal compositions featuring a solitary female figure lost in thought. In contrast to his seemingly passive models, the artist was part of an active social network of collectors, painters, and art dealers. He and his wife, artist Maria Oakley Dewing, established a Cornish art colony in New Hampshire. Charles Lang Freer encouraged Dewing to pursue Japonisme. Dewing and architect Stanford White designed the elaborate frames for many of his paintings on view in this exhibition.
The Freer|Sackler Gallery is exhibiting My Iran: Six Women Photographers, thru February 9, 2020.The artists featured explore the complexities of life within and outside their home country. “Their works highlight various ways in which artists use photography to respond to personal and political realities. Newsha Tavakolian and Malekeh Nayiny revisit the concept of the family photo album to reveal deeply moving individual stories. Hengameh Golestan’s shots of women protesting in the streets of Tehran following the 1979 Revolution capture the spirit and force of a social and political movement that still resonates today. Shadi Ghadirian and Gohar Dashti offer wry commentaries on post-revolutionary society, while Mitra Tabrizian composes evocative studies of displaced Iranians in London.”
Image below: Untitled - from the series "Home" by Gohar Dashti 2017 - ink-jet prints - Purchase - Jahangir and Eleanor Arnuzegar - Endowment for Contemporary Iranian Art.
The Freer|Sackler Gallery is exhibiting Sacred Dedication: A Korean Buddhist Masterpiece, thru March 22, 2020.The loan exhibition from the National Museum of Korea focuses on a single object—a gilt wood sculpture of Gwaneum, the bodhisattva of compassion and the most popular deity in Korean Buddhism. The crowned image was carved in the late Goryeo period (918–1392), and is known to be the oldest surviving gilded wood figure in an informal pose. “Sacred texts and potent symbolic objects were sealed inside this hollow religious sculpture when it was first placed into worship in the thirteenth century. The practice of adding dedication material to a Buddhist sculpture during consecration ceremonies was believed to transform it into a living body.”
Image below: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Gwaneum bosal). Korea, Goryeo period, ca. 1220–1285. Gilt wood and gilt copper and iron with crystal inlays. National Museum of Korea, Seoul
The Freer Gallery of Art reopened The Peacock Room in Blue and White on May 18 for an indefinite period.The room is filled with blue-and-white Chinese porcelains, inspired by the room’s appearance in 1876 when it was the dining room of Frederick Leyland, a shipping magnate in London. "With the sinuous patterns and brilliant blue and white colors of Leyland’s Kangxi ware in mind," James McNeill Whistler painted over the room in blue and gold. The intricate blue, green, and gold patterns "invoke the plumage of the peacock, creating a tonal counterpoint to the bolder patterns and colors of the porcelains."
Ongoing exhibitions at the Freer|Sackler include: Now- thru October 2020: Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia - The exhibition expands the understanding of Buddhism in Asian art through both beautiful objects and immersive spaces. Image below: Detail, The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room from the Alice S. Kandell Collection Photograph: 2010 Objects: Tibet, China, and Mongolia, 13th–20th century Mixed media Gifts and promised gifts from the Alice S. Kandell Collection
Open indefinitely: Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran - works dating from the first millennium BCE, beginning with the rule of the Achaemenid kings (550–330 BCE), to the early Islamic period. The installation explores the meaning behind these objects' over-arching artistic and technical characteristics.
Open indefinitely: Bells of Ancient China– An interactive exploration of ancient Chinese bells.
Image below: Bell (bo) with birds and tigers China, Yangzi River valley, ca. 1050–900 BCE Gift of Arthur M. Sackler Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Chase F. Robinson, who is president of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a professor of Middle Eastern history and culture, has been named the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian.The two museums comprise the Smithsonian’s national Asian art museums. Mr. Robinson succeeds Julian Raby, who retired in December 2017. Richard Kurin has served as Acting Director of the museums since Raby’s retirement.Robinson will assume his new position on December 10. Mr. Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University, having also studied at the American University in Cairo, the University of Cairo and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his doctorate from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Mr. Robinson was a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford andchaired its faculty board from 2003 to 2005.A scholar of Islamic history and culture, Robinson has authored or edited nine books and more than 40 articles that span the geographical and chronological breadth of the pre- and early-modern Islamic Middle East. A recent book, titled Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years (2016) was translated into Arabic and Portuguese. Mr. Robinson has commented that “The collections in the Freer and Sackler galleries, embedded as they are within the encyclopedic resources of the Smithsonian Institution, are extraordinary in their own right and powerful tools for fostering cultural understanding.”