Seattle Asian Art Museum in Seattle, WA

Still operating with the same boiler since its opening in 1933, the Seattle Asian Art Museum has reopened after a two-year and $56 million, top-to-bottom renovation. I had a chance to go to the opening night event, and was pleased to see how well they had preserved the beautiful Art Deco building—home to the Seattle Art Museum’s Asian Art collection and set in the midst of beautiful Volunteer Park.

Be sure to pay attention to the dates on the pieces I’m featuring. Do the math on some of them (especially those from the Jomon period.) The fact that they are still around and in such amazing condition can take your breath away. It did mine. I plan to go back a lot.

I didn’t take photos of the museum itself from the outside as it was a dark and rainy Seattle night, but you can read this to get an idea of the beautiful building and setting. I also decided not to resort to including photos of my kids’ elementary school graduations or proms, though the museum exterior and the lovely Volunteer Park setting was always the go-to location for great group photos.

Do Ho Suh, Some/One, 2001
Stainless steel military dog tags, nickel-plated copper sheets, steel structure, glass fiber reinforced resin, rubber sheets

This piece was on display at the Seattle Art Museum as long as I can remember. I was happy to see it again, as it is magnificent in person. “An assignment at the Rhode Island School of Design—to express identity through clothing—made the artist think about ‘my identity as a Korean in the United States.’ Recalling his two year mandatory service in the Korean military, Suh built a a garment out of thousands of dog tags, soldiers’ IDs that reduce individual lives to a handful of letters and numbers. The sculpture, taking the shape of an Asian armor, embodies a recurring theme from Suh: the relationship of the individual to the larger society.” (Asian Art Museum)

Ai Weiwei, Colored Vases, 2010
Ceramic with industrial paint

“The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is known for provocative art that challenges the status quo. In this work, one from his iconoclastic oeuvre, he gathered a group of supposedly ancient earthenware vases and coated them with modern industrial paint. Covered with new paint, what is underneath—like history itself—is ‘no longer visible, but is still there.’ “

Akio Takamori, Villagers, 1999

“Growing up in postwar Japan, Akio Takamori was exposed to a wide range of people through his father’s medical clinic, which was located near a red light district. Years later, as a mature artist working in Seattle, Takamori recalled his childhood experiences by creating communities of individuals with carefully crafted identities, such as this group of villagers. The artist remarked: ‘I create my figures from memories. I examine and visualize the meaning of scale, space, material and dimension of my memories.’” (Asian Art Museum)

You may remember seeing Faig Ahmed’s pieces in my earlier post on the UNTITLED, ART fair at Art Basel, Miami.

Camel, 8th century
Earthenware with sancai (tricolor) glaze
China, Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Takashi Murakami, Flower Ball, 2002
Acrylic on canvas
Left: Ewer with bridge handle, early 17th century
Mino ware, Oribe type
Stoneware with underglaze decoration
Japan, Edo period (1603-1868)

Right:Square serving dish, 17th century
MIno ware, Oribe type
Stoneware with underglaze decoration
Japan, Edo period (1603-1868)
Dogu (clay figure), ca. 1000-400 BCE
Japan, Jomon period (ca. 10,000-300 BCE)

My friend Judy introduced me to the Jomon period a few years ago, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. I was thrilled to see a piece from that era at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past Fall, and now there is one right in my neighborhood! I hope this one stays on display for a long time. Call me crazy, but I find this so exciting.

Black cup with wing handles, 5th-3rd century BCE
China, Warring States period (ca. 453-221 BCE)
Gui (food vessel), early to mid-11th century BCE
Cast bronze
China, Shang dynasty (ca.1600-1046 BCE)

“Haniwa, meaning clay cylinders in Japanese, are hollow earthenware funerary objects made during the Kofun period. They were not included in the burial chamber with the deceased but were placed on the open surfaces of the burial mound. Warrior figures such as this one would have been placed in a group with other figurative haniwa around the mound.” (Asian Art Museum).

Arunkumar H. G., Nandi, 2008
Fiberglass with paint

“Nandi (‘joy” in Sanskrit) is the common name for the vahana (vehicle, symbol devotee) of the Hindu god Shiva. (Asian Art Museum)

Buddha Shakyamuni Triumphing Over Mara and Calling the Earth to Witness HIs Awakening,
ca. mid-9th century
Black stone
India, Bihar, probably Kurkihar or vicinity
Surya, the sun god, with performers, Demi-gods, and mythical sea creatures, ca. Late 10th century
Upper portion of the arched surround for a deity (parikara) or a freestanding arch (torana)
India, Gujarat, possibly near Pali
Amida Buddha, ca. 1130
Wood with gold and lacquer
Japan, Heian period (794-1185)

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