The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative

Launched in early 2013, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative at the Guggenheim Museum has been established to advance the achievements of contemporary Chinese artists and expand the discourse on contemporary Chinese art. Made possible by a major grant to the Guggenheim from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, this new research, curatorial, and collections-building program focuses on the commissioning of major works from artists who were born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macao. The commissions will be presented at the Guggenheim Museum in three solo or thematic group exhibitions from 2014 through 2017 and will enter the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, forming The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collection. A rich offering of publications, lecture series, education programs, and public interactions with the artists will be developed for each commission-based exhibition.

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative expands the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative, inaugurated in 2006 and led by Dr. Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art. Central to the project is the work of Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art and an eminent scholar of Chinese and Southeast Asian art. He works in consultation with Dr. Munroe and the Guggenheim’s curatorial team to identify artists for the commissioned projects, and to develop exhibitions and related programs. For each commission, the Guggenheim will conduct in-depth research to identify critical topics, significant talent, and trends in contemporary Chinese art and discourse and, more broadly, transnational art studies.

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative is integral to the Guggenheim’s global arts programming. Through such international curatorial initiatives, the Guggenheim is developing an expansive art-historical vision encompassing multiple histories of modernism as well as a critical appreciation of contemporary art practices in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and South America. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative seeks to strengthen the Guggenheim’s collegial network among the Chinese art community, while advancing the study and appreciation of post-1979 Chinese art in a global context. Together, the Guggenheim’s forward-thinking initiatives are reflecting and stimulating new models of curatorial practice, bringing multiple and intersecting regional and global histories of modernism and contemporary practices to the fore.

First Commission
Wang Jianwei: Time Temple
October 31, 2014–February 16, 2015

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation

Established in Hong Kong in 2005 by Robert Hung Ngai Ho as a private philanthropic organization, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation works to foster and support Chinese arts and culture and to promote a deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings and their application in everyday life. The Foundation supports efforts that make traditional Chinese arts accessible and relevant to audiences worldwide. The Foundation also supports the creation of new works that bring innovative perspectives to the history of Chinese art, and that improve the quality and accessibility of scholarship on Chinese art. Guided by a belief that the insights of Buddhism have a vital role to play in approaching the challenges facing contemporary society, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has committed substantial resources to expanding the understanding, interpretation, and application of Buddhist philosophy.

The Asian Art Initiative at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum inaugurated its Asian Art Initiative in 2006, becoming the first U.S. museum of modern and contemporary art with dedicated curatorial expertise in Asian art. Conceived by the Guggenheim Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2005 and developed under the directorship of Richard Armstrong, the initiative is dedicated to strengthening the museum’s long-standing commitment to collect, preserve, and interpret modern and contemporary art from a transnational vantage, and to explore ideas across cultures through dynamic curatorial and educational programs and collaborations. With strong European and American collections already in place, the Guggenheim recognized a growing need to integrate the history of modern and contemporary Asian art into its field of perspective.

Under the leadership of Dr. Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, the Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Initiative is committed to providing a platform for advancing and disseminating the achievements of modern and contemporary Asian art and discourse internationally, as well as contributing to art historical and theoretical discussions pertaining to transnational modernism and contemporary global art that permeate the programming and collecting activity of the Foundation. Advancing new scholarship and approaches to an expanded art history, the Asian Art Initiative has organized major rotunda surveys of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean artists and movements, and has presented exhibitions featuring contemporary artists from India organized by Sandhini Poddar, former Associate Curator, Asian Art and Guest Curator of V. S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life. The Initiative’s three-fold strategy encompasses acquisitions, exhibitions, and education, including scholarly catalogue publications and online programs.

Asian Art Council

The Asian Art Council was established in 2007 to help develop the theoretical framework and intellectual foundation for the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative. Convened by Dr. Munroe, the council’s international community of some twenty curators, museum directors, cultural critics, and artists serves as a laboratory for the museum’s Asian Art Initiative and helps articulate the key issues of research and debate in the field. The council guides and critiques the intellectual and strategic development of the Guggenheim’s Asian art exhibition, collection, and educational initiatives within the context of an international museum of modern and contemporary art. Members of the council are invited to serve two-year terms, with several serving since inception and new members joining each cycle.

The Asian Art Council meets biannually for four days of roundtable meetings, exhibition workshops, and informal discussions. The meetings have each aimed to enrich the perspectives of the Guggenheim’s curatorial and educational staffs and to identify new or alternative horizons of research, outreach, and curatorial practice. With its biannual meeting transcripts published in the leading Chinese contemporary art journal, Yishu, the council meetings have impact across the institution and foster lively discussions across international curatorial and academic communities.

From left to right: Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation; Jean Miao, Operations Director, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation; Ted Lipman, CEO and President, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation; Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Thomas J. Berghuis, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art; Cai Guo-Qiang. Photo: Kris McKay © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

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