The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879, celebrated a centenary of Asian art at the museum in 2021. Although the very first objects, a Qianlong period red lacquer tea bowl and a celadon vase, entered the collection as early as 1888, they were housed under the Department of Classical Antiquities and were looked upon as ‘curios’. A Department of Oriental Art was finally established in 1921 and included art from East, Central, and West Asia. Today, the department is the custodian of over 20,000 objects. Over the years, it first changed its name to the Department of Asian Art in 1988 and most recently, this year, to the Department of the Arts of Asia, to be more relevant to changing times and ideas; ‘Arts of Asia’ evokes the subtle implication that the museum is a ‘multivocal space’. This issue looks at highlights in the collection including Chinese flower paintings, Tang and Song dynasty Buddhist sculptures, a monumental Buddha from Nagapattinam in South India standing over 160 cm tall and weighing over 952 kgs, Japanese prints, and a Joseon period painting of Kshitigarbha, one of the most worshipped bodhisattvas in East Asia. 

Tao Wang. Nature and Empathy: Some Notable Flower Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago
Colin Mackenzie. Glory Restored and Restored Glory: Tang and Song Buddhist Sculptures in the Art Institute of Chicago
Madhuvanti Ghose. The Monumental Buddha from Nagapattinam: The Many Lives of an Art Institute Icon
Yeonsoo Chee. A Journey to Salvation: Kshitigarbha Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago

  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.2 x 0.2 in.
  • Pages: 110