A Passion for Asia:
Organized to coincide with the Asia Society’s 50th anniversary, A Passion for Asia: The Rockefeller Family Collects exhibition celebrates the important contributions of the Rockefeller family as collectors of Asian art. The keen eye and inquisitive mind of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller inspired enthusiasm for Asian art among generations of Rockefellers. Rockefeller family members were drawn to the spiritual quality, beauty and technical sophistication of Asian art. When other western collectors considered such objects merely decorative, the Rockefellers recognized and appreciated the deeper cultural context in which the works of art were created.
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The Rockefeller Family Collects will feature 150 of the most stunning and important Asian art works originally purchased and owned by three generations of Rockefellers, including objects now held in both public and private collections. The exhibition draws heavily from The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, a collection of extraordinary quality and depth that was bequeathed to the Asia Society in 1978. The gem-like Rockefeller Collection-ranging from sculpture to imperial porcelain and representing a geographic span from present-day Afghanistan to East and Southeast Asia-is recognized around the world as one of the premier holdings of Asian art. However, the Collection is also widely admired for its very special character, a unique cohesiveness that reflected the personal tastes and cultural passions of Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller themselves. The exhibition also reflects the continuation of this Rockefeller tradition by featuring selections from the private collections of other family members whose own Asian art holdings reflect the individual passions of subsequent generations of collectors. Archival photographs and documents further illuminate how Asian art has surrounded the Rockefellers in their daily lives for generations and reveal the commitment of so many members of the Rockefeller family to preserving the rich cultural and artistic heritages of the diverse peoples of Asia.
The exhibition is co-curated by Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai and Adriana Proser, the Museum’s John H. Foster Curator of Traditional Asian Art.