To celebrate the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, we present a month-long exhibition and program series highlighting connections between African American and East Asian art, music, and film. The exhibition, Kung Fu Wildstyle, explores pop culture through contemporary street art, featuring works by legendary street artist and hip-hop impresario Fab 5 Freddy and Hong Kong graffiti and hip-hop pioneer MC Yan. They examine how Bruce Lee and kung fu affected New York City’s street culture and emerging hip-hop scene in the 1970s. Fab and MC Yan also show how this influence came full circle when hip-hop inspired a generation of Hong Kong street kids in the 1990s. Their paintings, which have previously popped up in New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, are enhanced by concerts, talks, and film screenings throughout April.
In 2014, the Okada Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan, made an announcement that startled the art world. The new arts center revealed it had discovered a long-lost painting by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806), a legendary but mysterious Japanese artist.
Titled Snow at Fukagawa, the immense work is one of three paintings by Utamaro that idealize famous pleasure districts in Edo (now Tokyo). This trio reached the Paris art market in the late 1880s and was quickly dispersed. Museum founder Charles Lang Freer acquired Moon at Shinagawa in 1903. Cherry Blossoms at Yoshiwara passed through several hands in France until the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, purchased it in the late 1950s. And Snow at Fukagawa had been missing for nearly seventy years before it resurfaced in Hakone.
For the first time in nearly 140 years, these paintings reunite in Inventing Utamaro at the Freer|Sackler, the only location to show all three original pieces. Contextualizing them within collecting and connoisseurship at the turn of the twentieth century, the exhibition explores the many questions surrounding the paintings and Utamaro himself.
Generous support provided by Mitsubishi Corporation and the Anne van Biema Endowment Fund.
The Glazed Elephant: Ceramic Traditions in Cambodia
Water-pouring elephants; lime pots shaped like birds, rabbits, and lions; bottles with human faces and hands folded in reverence: these vessels feature in the ceramic traditions of the Angkor kingdom (802–1431). The Glazed Elephant explores these unconventional forms, their supposed functions, and the people who made and used them during this famous period in Cambodia’s history.
Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt
Cats were worshiped long before they ruled the Internet, as revealed in Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt. Cat coffins and representations of the cat-headed goddess Bastet are among the extraordinary objects that reveal felines’ critical role in ancient Egyptian religious, social, and political life. Dating from the Middle Kingdom to the Byzantine period, the nearly seventy works include statues, amulets, and other luxury items decorated with feline features, which enjoyed special status among Egyptians. The exhibition, organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, also dedicates a small section to cats’ canine counterparts.
Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia
Encounter Buddhist art through the lens of spiritual practice and the perspectives of practitioners. Drawing on the Freer|Sackler’s collections from across Asia, this exhibition expands the understanding of Buddhism in Asian art through both beautiful objects and immersive spaces. Visitors can step into a Tibetan Buddhist shrine, travel the Buddhist world with an eighth-century Korean monk, visit a Sri Lankan stupa, meet teachers and guardians, and discover multiple Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Encountering the Buddha illuminates the ways in which art and place embody and express the teachings of Buddhism.
Considered one of the largest and finest holdings of its kind, the collection comprises 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' overarching artistic and technical characteristics.
Resounding: Bells of Ancient China
Musical innovations in the Bronze Age meld with today’s digital technology in this interactive exploration of ancient Chinese bells. Thousands of years ago, Chinese musicians worked with foundry technicians to cast matched sets of bronze bells of different sizes to produce a range of tones. They developed oval-shaped bells that, depending on where they were struck, produced two distinct pitches with an intentional interval between them. Resounding investigates this advancement, with displays of early instruments and a bell set discovered in a Chinese tomb, videos of ancient bells being played, and chances to compose your own music on bronze bells.
Now on viewTurquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan
Through October 29, 2017
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Gone but not forgottenFrom 2002 to the present
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