Masterworks of Asian Art
by Cleveland Museum of Art
About The Book
From its incorporation in 1913, one of the stated intentions of the Cleveland Museum was to form fine collections of Asian art (no such proposals related to Western art). Thanks to a series of generous donors and enlightened curators, notably Langdon Warner and Sherman Lee, Cleveland’s Asian holdings are now among the finest in the West, yet they are among the least published. Consequently, this book of the museum’s treasures is long overdue.
More than 100 objects have been selected. They are divided into three categories: China and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, and Japan and Korea, with each region introduced by a short but useful art-historical summary. A full page is devoted to an illustration of each object, with commentary reflecting the latest scholarship in the field given on the facing page. Cleveland has been lucky in the timing of its collecting: many of the Japanese objects acquired by Sherman Lee after World War II would not be allowed to leave Japan today. And the joyful Krishna lifting Mt. Govardhana (Cambodian, 6th century), one of the sculptural masterpieces of the world, has no counterpart outside Phnom Penh and could never be replaced (its lower portion was put together from fragments that had lain hidden in a Belgian garden for 40 years). The accession numbers of the objects — from a 15th-century Korean Amita triad, acquired in 1918, to recently discovered Chinese textiles that are revolutionizing the field — indicate a continuous history of discriminating collecting that is still maintained today. — John Stevenson
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