Guggenheim and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Announcement



Initiative Encompasses Commissions, Exhibitions, Publications, and Education Programs 

Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis Selected as the Future Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art

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Release also available for download in Chinese (simplified and traditional).

(NEW YORK, NY, March 19, 2013) – Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and Ted Lipman, Chief Executive Officer of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, today announced the inauguration of an initiative 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, the new initiative will enable the commissioning of artworks by artists who were born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macao, and the creation of a curatorial position at the Guggenheim for a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art.

As part of the initiative, the Guggenheim will commission major works from at least three artists or a group of artists that will enter the Guggenheim’s permanent collection as The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collection. The commissions will be exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in three exhibitions from 2014 through 2017, and a rich offering of publications, lecture series, education programs, and public interactions with the artists will be developed for each. The initiative was conceived to support the Guggenheim’s existing Asian Art Initiative led by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and will enlarge the institution’s related global arts initiatives.

“Over the past twenty years, the Guggenheim has helped to envision and realize the continually evolving potential of a global art museum for our era,” Richard Armstrong stated. “We created exceptional possibilities for the Guggenheim when we inaugurated the Asian Art Initiative in 2006, becoming the first U.S. museum of modern and contemporary art with dedicated curatorial expertise in Asian art. We are proud to build on that and our related global arts programs by joining with such a distinguished organization, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, to expand long-term international awareness and appreciation of contemporary Chinese art and culture, beginning with direct commissions of artists themselves. For this, all of us at the Guggenheim are deeply grateful to the Foundation.”

“Our Foundation focuses much of our philanthropy on Chinese and Buddhist visual art and culture, from ancient to contemporary,” said Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman of the Board. “Working with the Guggenheim, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation seeks to foster new creativity in the field of contemporary Chinese art. The thoughtful presentation of new works commissioned for this collection should contribute to the wider critical appreciation of Chinese contemporary art in a global cultural context.”

“Within less than a decade of its founding, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has worked with other institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Palace Museum in Beijing,” Ted Lipman stated. “For this ambitious and expansive program for contemporary Chinese art, we welcomed a partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, which shares our belief that the power of art can inspire, enlighten, and ultimately contribute to the betterment of communities in an era of rapid globalization.  Through its Asian Art Initiative, the Guggenheim has demonstrated that it also seeks to explore the complexities of Chinese art today and offer an intellectual framework for it within an international context.”

This is the third and most ambitious project in which The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has participated with the Guggenheim. The Foundation was previously the lead sponsor of the Guggenheim’s 2008 exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe and supported the 2009 exhibition The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860—1989, both award-winning projects.

Central to the initiative will be the work of Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis, who has been selected to serve as the future Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art. An eminent scholar of Chinese and Southeast Asian art, Dr. Berghuis serves at the University of Sydney as a Lecturer in Asian Art History and Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Asian Art and Archeology; he also serves as a committee member of the university’s China Studies Centre, and as a member of its Sydney Southeast Asian Studies Centre. His writings have been published in prominent journals and art magazines, including Art Review UK, Art Asia Pacific, C-Arts, Positions: East Asian Cultures Critique, and Third Text. Dr. Berghuis has curated several exhibitions of contemporary Asian art, including Suspended Histories at the Museum van Loon, Amsterdam (2013). Additional curatorial positions include Founding Cocurator for Edge of Elsewhere (2010-2012), Guest Curator for the 3rd Israel Video Art Biennial in Tel Aviv (2006), Principal Cocurator for the 1st Dashanzi International Arts Festival at the 798 Art District in Beijing (2004), and Associate Curator for the 6th Sharjah International Biennale in the United Arab Emirates (2003). He received his B.A. and M.A. in Sinology from Leiden University and his PhD in Asian Art History from the University of Sydney. He is the author of Performance Art in China (2006), the first major art-historical study on performance art in China.

“I am looking forward to working with artists, critics, and museum colleagues in China to further the understanding and appreciation of contemporary Chinese art within a broad global art context,” said Dr. Berghuis. “The Guggenheim offers a tremendous platform to advance the most innovative practices in greater China today.”

Dr. Berghuis will work in consultation with Alexandra Munroe and the Guggenheim’s curatorial team to identify artists for commissioned projects, and to develop exhibitions and related programs. He will also become an integral part of the curatorial department while strengthening its intellectual and collegial network among the Chinese-art community. 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.

Alexandra Munroe commented, “The Guggenheim sees the continuing augmentation of its holdings as the cornerstone of its Asian Art Initiative. In order to establish a truly global collection in the twenty-first century, the Guggenheim must nourish its current holdings of American and European art with masterworks of modern and contemporary Asian art. The approach adopted is one of integration rather than segregation—the Asian art holdings will be seen within a larger matrix of world art history, bringing their unique aesthetics, philosophies, conceptual methodologies, politics, and rich inheritances to the fore. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation partnership aims to build the Guggenheim’s Chinese art holdings while contributing to both Chinese and international scholarship in the field.”

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 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which opened in 1997, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, currently in development. Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum. More information about the foundation can be found at

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the People’s Republic of China
The Guggenheim’s collaboration with The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation endeavors to build on the Guggenheim’s strategic commitment to Asia, and to China in particular, as a center of creative and transformational culture. Since the 1990s, the Guggenheim has steadily increased its dialogue with China and has built relationships with the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) and its affiliate national agencies and museums and has actively and effectively been at the forefront of curatorial, educational, and exhibition exchange programs between China and the U.S. In 1997, the Guggenheim organized the traveling exhibition Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Museum for presentation at the Shanghai Museum, the first exhibition in the P.R.C. to provide a coherent overview of modern and contemporary Western art. The following year, the Guggenheim presented three landmark exhibitions at its New York and Bilbao museums: China: 5,000 Years—Innovation and Transformation in the Arts; Dawn: Early Chinese Cinema; and A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth-Century China. The Guggenheim has also organized exhibitions from its permanent collections that have traveled extensively throughout Asia, including venues in Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, and Shanghai. In 2007, the Guggenheim organized the exhibition Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, with showings in Beijing and Shanghai, one of the most significant displays of American art ever to have been exhibited in China. Other exhibitions organized by the Guggenheim over the past decade have featured the work of contemporary Chinese artists including Cao Fei, Huang Yongping, Yang Fudong, and Zhang Huan. The full-rotunda retrospective, Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe traveled to the National Museum of China, Beijing, where it coincided with the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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March 19, 2013

Betsy Ennis / Keri Murawski
Guggenheim Museum
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Amy Wentz
Polskin A&CC
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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, Future Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art; Cai Guo-Qiang. Photo: Kris McKay © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
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