Friday, June 24, 2016

The new Center for Asian Art at Ringling Museum makes a big impression - posted by FFAB




The new Center for Asian Art at Ringling Museum makes a big impression
Tampa Bay Times
by Lennie Bennett


The Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art is a big name for a big project at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
It opened grandly in May with galleries for its permanent collection and notable loans — a study area that will serve both visiting scholars and a new Asian arts program for students at Florida State University, which owns the museum, and a lecture room that can accommodate an audience of 125.
The art will be of greatest interest to most visitors. Curator Fan Zhang has done a heroic job of compressing thousands of years of history and vast geographic and cultural territory using only about 400 works.
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The new pavilion, designed by the prestigious Boston-based architectural firm Machado Silvetti, is gorgeous. It is sheathed in 2,736 green-glazed, rippled terra-cotta tiles, all handmade, that cover its cube shape that is elevated on concrete legs. It is done no service by the way it has been connected to the renovated wing. The design would have worked best as a free-standing structure with space around it to lighten its density. Pragmatically, that couldn't have happened because it is only part of the center and needs to be in close proximity to the renovated wing, which houses much of the art. The way they are joined is unfortunate. They seem jammed together with no transition, creating a visually jarring exterior. And without some sort of transition, the vibrant jade of the tiles, so evocative of Asian architecture, fights with the pastel color of the rest of the museum.
Those are aesthetic judgments, however, and the more important point of this new addition is that it broadens the museum's reach into its future and honors its past. John Ringling is best known, rightfully so, for amassing a great collection of Baroque art.
"He wasn't just trying to focus on European art," High said. "He wanted to explore making (his museum) a more encyclopedic institution."
Ringling gathered hundreds of works of Asian art in just a few years. When many people were buying them for decorative purposes, he wanted his to be of museum quality. Many of them are. It's gratifying to see this part of his collection, which had never been properly organized, given its due.
The Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art is part of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours to 8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $25 adults, $20 seniors and $5 students with ID and youths 6 to 17. It includes the art museum, circus museum and Ca d'Zan, the Ringlings' historic mansion. Admission to the art museum only is free every Monday. (941) 359-5700 or ringling.org.

1 comment:

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