MAK Permanent Collection Asia: new gallery designed by Tadashi Kawamata

MAK Permanent Collection Asia: new gallery designed by Tadashi Kawamata

MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna

MAK Permanent Collection Asia. In front: Fo-Lion, Ming dynasty (1368–1644). 
© MAK/Georg Mayer.

March 7, 2014

MAK Permanent Collection Asia: new gallery designed by Tadashi Kawamata

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts /
Contemporary Art 

Stubenring 5
1010 Vienna
Hours: Tuesday 10am–10pm (free admission 6–10pm), 
Wednesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

The new presentation of the MAK Permanent Collection ASIA: China – Japan – Korea on the ground floor of the museum reflects the growing interest of visitors—and most notably of many artists—in Asian art.

Selected artefacts from the collection have been embedded in an artistic concept and design created specifically for the venue by the renowned artist Tadashi Kawamata, yielding profound insight into the art and cultures of East Asia. 

Since its foundation 150 years ago, the MAK has focused with particular emphasis on Asian applied arts, for the history of European materials cannot be told without referring to art from Asia. In the course of time, an inventory has been compiled from major public and private collections that, besides offering a wide-ranging perspective on developments in art history, can boast of artworks that are unique across the world. Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquerwork, Japanese woodcuts (ukiyo-e), and Japanese dyers’ stencils (katagami) form the core of the MAK Asia Collection, now totaling around 25,000 artefacts. It is one of the most comprehensive and important European collections of art and applied arts from the Asiatic region.

In February 2014, the MAK Permanent Collection Asia has moved to the ground floor of the MAK main building on Stubenring, in place of the former MAK Permanent Collection Romanesque Gothic Renaissance. Johannes Wieninger, Curator of the MAK Asia Collection, found the ideal artist in Tadashi Kawamata for the newly conceived collection presentation. To quote Wieninger: “Ever since taking part in the Biennale in Venice in 1982, Tadashi Kawamata has been one of the leading contemporary artists bridging the gap between East and West. His works have an ephemeral character, thus are intensively related to place and time, subtly connecting the different cultures. His installation Yusuke Nakahara’s Cosmology for the Echigo Tsumari Art Festival in Japan in 2012 is a reinterpretation of an art critic’s comprehensive library and inspired us to invite him to work with the MAK Asia Collection.” 

Permanent change and the play of natural and artificial light and shade are the sustaining creative principles in Tadashi Kawamata’s concept for the MAK Asia Collection, which he wishes to “envelop, embrace” through his intervention. Hence the large outside windows of the gallery have been integrated into the presentation so as to highlight the varying aspects of the exhibits as the seasons change. Large, scaffold-like showcase blocks in the center of the gallery are used to display the collection objects; moreover, the interconnecting of the “narratives” between one another creates new and multifaceted viewpoints. The installation takes advantage of perspectives and doors leading to neighboring rooms for showing off collection items. 

Tadashi Kawamata (born 1953 in Mikasa, Japan, lives and works in Tokyo and Paris) excited attention already at the age of 28 while taking part in the Venice Biennale, where he extended the Japanese Pavilion into the Giardini by means of a timber construction. He is regularly represented in international exhibitions, for instance at documenta in Kassel in 1987 and 1992. Kawamata was the artistic director of the Yokohama Triennale in 2005, the largest contemporary art exhibition in Japan. Since 2005 he has been teaching at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris. 

The Permanent Collection Asia is the second permanent collection after Vienna 1900 to be reinstalled under MAK Director Christoph Thun-Hohenstein. The reinstallation of the MAK Permanent Collection Carpets will follow in April.


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March 7, 2014

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