November 2012 – September 2014
The Crow Collection of Asian Art is home to a small but engaging group of objects from places that are somewhat obscured by the collective term “Southeast Asia.” The name came into use at the end of World War II to describe a part of the world that had for several generations appeared on Western maps variously as Tonkin, French Indo-China (later North Vietnam and South Vietnam), Dutch East Indies, and various other names and boundaries that have disappeared with the reemergence of independent states, many of which have chosen names to contrast with the colonial period. Burma is officially Myanmar (although Burma is making an internal comeback), Cambodia is Kampuchea, the former Sultanate of Brunei is Brunei Darussalam, Singapore is independent from Malaya, and Malaya is Malaysia. East Timor—which was a Portuguese and Catholic outpost on the island of Timor, claimed by the Dutch after centuries of trade monopoly, invaded by Japan, handed back to Portugal, and then ceded to Muslim Indonesia—is now independent, with claims to large underwater gas reserves in the maritime (always murky) region that separates it from Australia.
Southeast Asia is a part of the world where boundaries continue to change, and the segments of this complex history portrayed in Peninsulas and Dragon Tails suggest the potential for enriched understanding of the modern world through greater familiarity with the region’s past and current cultural geography.
Lacquered wood sculptures of young monks from the Mandalay period of Burmese history conjure the missing object of their devotion, the historical Buddha, who taught renunciation as a path to bliss, even while British colonials expelled the last king and queen, cooled themselves on sultry porches, and oversaw immense plantations of rubber trees on land where there had recently been only forest. A textile from 20th-century Bali reflects ancient associations between fortune, misfortune, time, and spirits, mixed with advice on preferred market days for various goods, local cults, and Hinduism as imported with people arriving from Java. The Crow Collection’s 7th-century sandstone sculpture of four-armed Vishnu, a rare example of early Khmer culture in Cambodia, takes its place alongside several later sculptures from the period of the Angkor sanctuaries. As always, the sculpture seems to occupy more space than its actual measurements would suggest. The scope of this exhibition touches on only a few times and places within the rich and complex history of Southeast Asia and its diverse cultures—ethnically varied, speaking localized languages, writing with different scripts, wearing different clothes, practicing different faiths, honoring different social structures. The objects shown are grouped by the modern countries with which they are particularly identified—Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia. The exhibition includes maps with boundaries of the shifting cultural spheres that produced the objects on view. The importance of geography to culture in this region emerges: the Himalayan mountains of the Eurasian continent branch to the southeast in fingers of land and terminate in the islands of the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” where the earth’s mantle shakes, and the land, rivers, and seas mete out judgments that are repeatedly honored.
Over the centuries, Korean artists have produced superior examples of calligraphy, sculpture, lacquerware, and paintings, but it is ceramics for which they have gained special renown. In the early 12th century, Korean ceramic artists mastered the highly prized green, blue, and gray hues of glazed celadon ceramics.
Xu Jing, a Chinese scholar and connoisseur who visited Korea as part of an official envoy in 1123, wrote that these Korean celadon wares were “first under heaven.” Xu compared them to the famous Ru ware of the Northern Song (960–1127), the rarest of all ceramics made exclusively for the Chinese court, grand monasteries, and a few high-ranking noble households. Japanese connoisseurs also prized Korean ceramics and imported select pieces for use in their tea ceremonies, especially during the Momoyama (1573–1615) and Edo (1615–1868) periods. Often overshadowed by China and Japan, Korea largely escaped the attention of Europeans and Americans until the early 20th century, thus its ceramic traditions have only recently gained recognition in the West.
This exhibition introduces the Jerry Lee Musslewhite collection, a small but stellar group of fifty-three artworks from Korea acquired by the Crow Collection of Asian Art in 2010. This collection includes beautiful examples of the three major areas of Korean ceramics, including Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) celadon and Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) porcelain as well as rare gray stoneware from the early Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.–A.D. 935). The collection also includes a small selection of Korean paintings and some very fine chests, boxes, and other examples of decorative art. Together, they give the Crow Collection the foundation for a comprehensive collection of Korean art.
The original collector, Jerry Lee Musslewhite (1937–2009), was a longtime docent at the Crow Collection toward the end of his life. Born in Arp, Texas, he studied fine arts in college and subsequently took a position in South Korea working for the US Army as an arts instructor. He remained in Korea for more than twenty-five years, and in his spare time he became an avid collector of Korean art and antiques, which he shipped to Texas for storage every three years or so. Eventually this vast collection numbered in the thousands, the best of which are showcased in this exhibition as a tribute to his keen eye for quality, his passion for art, and his desire to share his love of Korea with museum visitors in his home state of Texas.
Jade is a word applied to many different stones–so many that it is useful now and then to re-claim mastery of the differences for understanding and appreciating Chinese “jade.” This exhibition draws on the Museum’s Collection and generous loans of natural worked stones to encourage just that. Works of art to which the term “jade” has been applied and misapplied are grouped by their discernable distinctions as stones, rather than by style, subject, function, or date they were worked. An exercise in training the eye is presented for the pleasure it affords, along with any practical benefits that may accrue for the collector. The value added of skillfull carving, pleasing shape, fine polish,
The exhibition is dominated by natural and worked stones most commonly prized among collectors of Chinese “Jade”: Nephrite and Jadeite—two distinct materials. Other stones that sometimes pass for “Jade” also appear to serve for visual comparison: Serpentine, Chrysoprase, Agate, Soapstone, Malachite, Opaque Dolomite Marble, and others that abound particularly in snuff-bottles for the delight of the discerning eye.
Nephrite and Jadeite are both legally traded as “Jade” in the international marketplace. Both are geologically identified as metamorphic rocks, materials transformed by heat, pressure, and water from igneous magma flowing into the earth’s mantle. Both are chemically classed among minerals as silicates, that is they are rich in silicon, the second most abundant element in the earth’s outer layer, but they are grouped differently because of dissimilar chemical compositions and physical structures. Among minerals, Nephrite is an amphibole, and Jadeite a pyroxene. Nephrite is not even technically a full-blooded mineral; it lacks a developed physical crystalline structure in which atoms bond into regular, repeating, three-dimensional shapes. The conditions of heat and pressure that transformed igneous rock to metamorphic Nephrite were followed by a phase of rapid cooling that inhibited the growth of crystals. It’s structure is described by minerologists as “crypto- or micro-crystalline.” The microscopic crystal structure of Nephrite is an irreglar felt-like bond of matted chains. Jadeite has a clearly defined crystal structure of octa-hedrally co-ordinated aluminum atoms and 8 co-ordinated sodium polyhedra connected by silicate chains running parallel to the C axis of the geometric form. The grainy structure of Jadeite is denser and harder than the fibrous arrangement of Nephrite: Jadeite is the more difficult, for example to scratch. The interwoven structure of Nephrite is more resistant to breakage, and by definition the tougher of the two compounds.
The artist Shen Wei defies classification. He is a renowned choreographer and dancer who has also designed sets, video projections, costumes, and makeup for his company’s dance performances. The result is always a gesamtkunstwerk, a synthesis of the arts where creativity moves freely between mediums. Instead of conforming to a recognizable style, Shen Wei’s creations are unified by his sensitivity to the expressive possibilities of gesture, color, and shape. Shen has been internationally recognized for his many artistic accomplishments, including “Scroll,” a stunning section of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in which dancers moved across a large rectangular cloth, their hands and feet dipped in paint, leaving behind the traces of their movement in ribbonlike lines. The mesmerizing synthesis of choreography and drawing came together at the end of the piece, when the dancers departed and the horizontal scroll was lifted into the air, revealing a landscape in the tradition of Chinese shan shui, mountains and water.
Shen Wei is one of the select few to have received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship, and his breadth of creative artistic accomplishment reflects the diversity of his training and inspiration. From his early training in the art of Chinese opera and calligraphy to his later interest in the painting of Cézanne, Degas, and Lucien Freud, these sources inform his practice and provide a launching pad for bold new directions. During the mid-1980s, Shen branched out from his childhood studies of traditional Chinese visual and performing arts to explore oil painting and modern dance, some of the “Western” arts closely identified with China’s significant period of artistic experimentation: the ’85 Art New Wave. Since 1995, Shen Wei has lived and worked in New York, where he immersed himself in the vibrant cultural life of the city. His artistry as a dancer and choreographer has continued to relate to his keen interest in the visual arts on view in the city’s many galleries and museums, as well as his own painting. As a result, he is a truly international artist whose work owes as much of a debt to the avant-garde and alternative art scenes of lower Manhattan as it does to classical Chinese arts.
In the significant recent series of paintings featured in this exhibition, Shen Wei narrows his focus to a study of the grisaille palette and the expressive textures of oil paint. These compositions in black, white, and gray are shrouded in an aura of mystery. The shapes and textures can, in places, appear to resemble elements of a sublime and awesome landscape—jagged rocks, rushing water, imposing clouds, and elusive figures and animals. These same works, in places, recede into shadow, abstraction, and above all the materiality of a heavy impasto and thick textured paint on canvas. They have a dreamlike quality reminiscent of surrealist explorations of the unconscious that melds, unexpectedly, with visible brushstrokes and the traces of swift, decisive action. Meditations on landscape, the subtly beautiful, and the strange have long been the domain of literati artists in China. Shen Wei, with this new series, takes these meditations to new heights and profound depths.
Join the Crow Collection of Asian Art in an East-West art and culture exchange. Learn how to decorate your own hand fan, a tradition as old as the Song Dynasty, then practice signing your autograph on it after seeing your name written side by side in English and Chinese! Check out a performance by the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra, visit the Texas-sized world map exhibit to plan an adventure in Asia, or join a Gallery Educator for a unique tour of the collection. End the evening by enjoying the award-winning film Jiro Dreams of Sushi while sampling cocktails prepared with traditional ingredients from both Asian and American cultures.
ART ACTIVITY: CHINESE HAND FANS
6–8 PM | Arbor Walk, 2nd floor
In the past, Chinese fans were used to signify a high social status. Today they are used to display grace in dances and personality traits of characters in theatrical plays or storytelling. Beat the heat and join us for fan making and even get your name written in Chinese.
COMMUNITY ACTIVITY: MAP OF ASIA
6–10 PM | Jade Room, 2nd floor
Ever wanted to travel to Asia? Well now is your chance to share where you would want to go in Asia on our community map of Asia.
COMMUNITY ACTIVITY: SAND RANGOLI
6–10 PM | Flora Street
Rangoli are intricate designs put on floors in courtyards or other significant sites in a home or public place that are made of colored sand, flour, rice, or even flowers. They are meant to ward off evil and invite and welcome Hindu deities into the space. Using actual stencils from India, help create a sand rangoli mural to adorn the entrance to the museum.
GAMES: DIABOLO JUGGLING, TUHO AND SHUTTLECOCK
6-10 PM | Flora Street
Stop by and learn how to play these traditional games. Evolved from the Chinese yo-yo, Diabolo Juggling is a game played by pulling the string and turning the axle repeatedly to make the diabolo rotate faster. Tuho is a traditional Chinese and Korean game that requires players to throw sticks into a large, ornate canister. As for Shuttlecock, Jianzi in Chinese, players aim to keep a heavily weighted shuttlecock in the air by using their bodies, apart from their hands. May the odds be ever in your favor.
PERFORMANCE: DALLAS ASIAN AMERICAN YOUTH ORCHESTRA
6:30 PM | Sculpture Garden
From traditional Western classical music to the music of Eastern Asia, the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra, DAAYO, will create a special blend of musical styles.
7:30 PM | Grand Gallery, 2nd floor
Join a Crow Collection Gallery Educator for the start of a progressive tour through the Arts District. Tours begin at the Nasher at 6:30 PM and continue to the Dallas Museum of Art at 7:00 PM then complete your tour experience here at the Crow Collection.
PERFORMANCE: SAMUL NORI AND KOREAN DRUM DANCE WITH HANSOL SAMULNORI
7:30 PM | Flora Fountain
Samul nori is a genre of traditional percussion music originating in Korea. The word samul means “four objects” and nori means “play.” Literally, samul nori is performed with four traditional Korean musical instruments: Kkwaenggwari (a small gong), Jing (a larger gong), Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum) and Buk (a barrel drum similar to the bass drum). Samul nori has its roots in Pungmulnori (literally “Korean traditional percussion instruments playing”), a Korean folk genre comprising music, acrobatics, folk dance, and rituals, which was traditionally performed in rice farming villages in order to ensure and to celebrate good harvests. Stop by and enjoy the beat of a different drum.
PERFORMANCE: JASMINES CHINESE DANCE TROUPE
8:30 PM | Grand Gallery, 2nd floor
Founded January 2008 in Plano, this group of experienced dancers specializes in Chinese classical and folk dance.
8:30 PM | Link Asia, 2nd floor
Join a Crow Collection Gallery Educator for a unique tour experience that includes an activity in the galleries, while learning about a work of art from the collection or exhibit.
EAST MEETS WEST COCKTAIL TASTING
9 – 11 PM | Grand Gallery, 2nd floor
Explore the different tastes and flavors in a variety of Asian inspired cocktails. Supplies are limited. Must show proof of age to be served alcohol.
SCREENING: JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
10:00 PM | Grand Gallery, 2nd floor
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a 2011 American documentary film directed by David Gelb. The film follows Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant, on his continuing quest to perfect the art of sushi. The film also profiles Jiro’s two sons, both of whom are also sushi chefs. The younger son, Takashi, left Sukiyabashi Jiro to open a mirror image of his father’s restaurant in Roppongi Hills. The 50-year-old elder son, Yoshikazu, obligated to succeed his father, still works for Jiro and is faced with the prospect of one day taking over the flagship restaurant. Grab a cocktail and sit back and enjoy this enthralling look at a man’s pursuit of perfection through the art of sushi.
Tai Chi in the Galleries Saturdays | 9 – 10:30 AM | Free
Simplify your Saturday and discover your inner chi with instructor Eng Khoo. All levels of experience welcome. Space is limited; no reservations required.
Tours of the Collection
Saturdays | 1 PM | FREE
Join Crow Collection docents for enlightened conversations in the galleries each week. No reservations required.