The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in 17th-Century China

Location:  Asia Society & Museum, New York 
Date: March 2013
Curators: Peter C. Sturman, Susan Tai, and Adriana Proser
Services Provided: Exhibition Design, Construction and Fabrication Documents, Lighting Design 


Excerpt from Asia Society Press Release:

“Asia Society presents a major exhibition of Chinese paintings that reveal the private world of the scholar-painters who lived during one of the most tumultuous periods of Chinese history — the end of the Ming dynasty (c. 1600–1644) and the early years of foreign conquest by the Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty (1644–c.1700). Many of the paintings are exhibited for the first time in the United States and drawn from seven private collections and six public institutions in the U.S. and Taiwan, including the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Artful Recluse showcases some of China’s most celebrated artists who, following a time-honored tradition in Chinese culture, withdrew from the turbulent and public life of politics to seek solace in nature, art, and private companionship. Using landscape and the natural world as their symbolic subject matter these artists created brilliant and diverse commentary through art. Many of the paintings include poems and inscriptions that enhance the images with masterful calligraphy.”

While this exhibition featured numerous floor and wall cases, we did not design any of them. In fact, in addition to the works on loan, Asia Society also received all of the usable casework from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. We were tasked with creating a space that would accommodate the large works and their cases in an entirely new space not intended to house them by the previous design.

Working in 3d and plan, we recreated all of the cases as well as the art work in order to ensure that the space would accommodate this approach. 

New colors as well as architectural elements from the area and period were designed and incorporated into the exhibit in order to create an immersive experience.

Photo Credit: John Bigelow Taylor