Press Room / Gifts of Japanese and Korean Art from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection

July 31, 2015

Gifts of Japanese and Korean Art from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection

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MINNEAPOLIS, JULY 31, 2015–Highlights from the magnificent collection of Japanese and Korean art assembled by Mary Griggs Burke and formally gifted to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) goes on view September 27, 2015, through May 8, 2016, in the exhibition “Gifts of Japanese and Korean Art from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection.” This special exhibition will be shown in 16 newly installed galleries devoted to Japanese art and Korean art. At 11,000 square feet, the Japanese galleries are some of the most expansive of any museum in North America and tangibly demonstrate the museum’s commitment to the arts of East Asia.

The Burke bequest to Mia comprises nearly 700 objects, from prehistoric to contemporary times, adding depth to the
museum’s existing collection of Japanese and Korean art. The exhibition will include various media spanning the prehistoric
era to the late 1800s, with paintings from the Edo period (17th–19th centuries) at the core of the 175 objects featured in the
exhibition.

Matthew Welch, PhD, Deputy Director & Chief Curator at Mia, who knew Mrs. Burke personally, said, “This generous gift cements Mia’s reputation as one of the nation’s principal repositories of Japanese art. Mrs. Burke’s generous gift enters our existing Japanese art collection and enriches and deepens it so that we are poised to be a leading center for the study of Japanese art.”

Exhibition themes such as “The Floating World,” “Narrative Painting,” and “Encounters with the Outside World” convey the
scope and beauty of this collection. Highlights include stunning ink paintings such as Kichizan Minchō’s (1352–1431)
interpretation of the Buddhist bodhisattva Monju; a pair of folding screens of hollyhocks and plum trees by Ogata Kenzan
(1663–1743); a rare 16th-century water jar (mizusashi) known as a “Burst Bag” from the kilns in Iga for use in tea ceremony; a
pair of screens of Chinese children playing “crack the whip” and examining an elephant by the eccentric artist Nagasawa
Rosetsu (1754–99); and a luminous celadon Korean maebyong vase from the 1100s inlaid with a pattern of a crane amid clouds. Since cranes were a personal favorite of Mrs. Burke, a gallery has been dedicated to paintings featuring these magnificent birds.

In recognition of Mrs. Burke’s generosity, Andreas Marks, PhD, was named the Mary Griggs Burke Curator of Japanese and
Korean Art. The gift joins the museum’s existing Japanese art collection that now rises to nearly 8,0000 objects, making it one of the most significant encyclopedic collections of Japanese art in the nation. In addition, a new curator has joined Marks in working with the Japanese collection. Aaron M. Rio, who recently completed his doctorate at Columbia University, will
become the Mellon Assistant Curator of Japanese and Korean Art.

The exhibition will open to the public on September 27. At the same time, the museum will unveil “Seven Masters: 20th
Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection,” featuring gifts to the museum from the late Frederick B. Wells III. On Sunday, September 27, Matthew Welch will deliver a lecture about the Burke collection and Andreas Marks will speak about prints in the Wells collection.

In March 2015 it was announced that the Japanese art collection of Mary Griggs Burke, long considered the finest private
collection of its kind outside of Japan, was bequeathed to Mia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Mrs.
Burke, who was born in 1916 in St. Paul, and raised there, maintained a lifelong association with the city and its cultural
institutions. Her maternal grandfather, Crawford Livingston, and paternal grandfather, Colonel Chauncey Griggs, were two St. Paul civic leaders who made fortunes in lumber, railroads, and utilities. The young Mary Griggs grew up in an Italianate
mansion in St. Paul that was awash in 18th-century French objects as well as some Japanese pieces that her mother had
acquired. Mrs. Burke’s mother, Mary Livingston Griggs, visited Japan on a world tour in 1902. The trip inspired Mrs. Burke,
who visited Japan for the first time in 1954 and made more than 30 subsequent trips in her lifetime.

The exhibition is made possible by the Mary Griggs Burke Fund, gift of the Mary Livingstone Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, 2015. Generous support for “Gifts of Japanese and Korean Art from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection” provided by the Gale Family Endowment.
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