Masterpieces From the Asia Society Museum Collection
Even before John D. Rockefeller 3rd (1906–1978) established Asia Society in 1956, he was deeply involved with the arts and culture of Asia. He firmly believed that art was an indispensable tool for understanding societies, and thus made culture central to the new multidisciplinary organization that would encompass all aspects and all parts of East, South, and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. From 1963 to 1978, he and his wife, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller (1909–1992), worked with art historian Sherman E. Lee (1918–2008) as an advisor to build the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, which was later bequeathed to Asia Society. The group of spectacular historical objects they assembled—including sculpture, painting, and decorative arts—became the core of the Asia Society Museum Collection and is now world renowned. The Collection is distinguished by the high proportion of acclaimed masterpieces, representing the artistic pinnacles of the cultures that produced them, to which additional high-quality gifts and acquisitions have been added since the original bequest to Asia Society.
The selections in the exhibition showcase the breadth and depth of creative expression across Asia created by artists and artisans with extraordinary skill. To this day the objects remain an important means for sharing the talent, imagination, and deep history of the peoples of Asia with audiences all over the world. Masterpieces from the Asia Society Museum Collection explores the specialized artistry of Asian ceramics, metalwork, and stone carving, and the development of Hinduism and Buddhism in Asia through some of the most refined and accomplished examples of the region’s great artistic traditions.