A HOMECOMING FOR CHINESE ART AT THE NASSAU COUNTY MUSEUM IN ROSLYN HARBOR
November 26, 2014 -- This past Friday evening, the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor held its opening reception for China: Then and Now. The exhibition explores three millennia of Chinese art - each through a different medium. The exhibition's curator, Amy G. Poster, who is Curator Emerita, Asian Art of the Brooklyn Museum, explained that the show is a sort of homecoming for many of the pieces which had been a part of the private collections of prominent Long Island collectors Childs and Frances Frick whose Roslyn Harbor property and mansion are now home to the Museum, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, who had lived in Searingtown before his death in 1987.
Gallery One features many examples of Buddhist monumental stone sculpture from the 5th through 8th centuries, including Bodhisattvas and tomb inscriptions recovered from well-documented monastic sites. The pieces, on loan from Columbia University, had been collected by Dr. Sackler.
The early modern period is represented by a sample of the 220 blue and white porcelain pieces from the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644-1912) periods that the Fricks had collected and used as service ware or put on display in the very room in which they are now being showcased. They were bequeathed to the Frick Collection in Manhattan upon Mr. Frick's death in 1965.
Many of the porcelains have commonly recognized functions such as dinner ware and serving vessels, while others a bit more unusual - snuffing bottles for instance; while still others, with "curious forms," do not appear to have had a specific function or were simply intended to be decorative. Many of the pieces depict scenes from Chinese classic literature, children's activities and the lives of the nobility. Complementing the pieces are poster size photographs of the interior of the mansion as it was when the Fricks lived there from 1919 to 1965.
Filling the third gallery are four large scale ink paintings by contemporary artist Liu Dan (b. 1953) - three landscapes, and one of his "Scholar's Rock" pieces. "Through meticulously detailed brushwork, often requiring years of patient application, these masterpieces are both dreamlike and hyper-realistic," the exhibition's description reads. Be sure to catch "The Natural Eye" a 15 minute film about the artist that offers a glimpse of his creative process as he builds a large-scale landscape in brush and ink. It screens continuously from 11am to 2 pm and 3-4 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 am to 1 pm on Sundays.
More modern and contemporary works in a variety of media, some depicting China's place in the world today, are displayed in the second floor galleries.
China: Then and Now not only offers an enriching experience for art aficionados, history buffs and more casual museum goers, but also for children. Throughout its run, the museum will host family Sundays, with a special Lantern Festival celebration on March 8 and during the February school break, there will be Family Art Making Days to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Also this winter, the Museum through a special partnership with Sea Cliff Elementary School, will host the third grade for a second time this year. When asked, "What should the children be looking for when they visit the exhibition?" Ms. Poster's eyes lit up. "For the stone figures," she said, "Buddhist ideas and man's relationship to the world. With the porcelain, Mythic symbols such as the Dragon and Phoenix." And in Liu Dan's ink paintings, "look for both human figures as well the mythical creatures - you must really use your imagination,but they're there."
China: Then and Now will run through March 8.
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