Saturday, April 9, 2016

Collected Letters at the Asian Art Museum

San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum is celebrating its 50th Anniversary with events and exhibits.  The highlight so far has to be the new piece they acquired by the Chinese artist Liu Jianhua. The work is titled Collected Letters and is an installation of porcelain letters from the Latin alphabet as well as Chinese characters.  The letters are suspended in an alcove on the second floor loggia.  They are adjacent to cases of Chinese porcelain from various periods.  The loggia is one of the areas in the museum that most retains the feel of the public library that was the original purpose of the building.  The upper walls have literary quotes carved into the stonework.  Above Collected Letters there is a proverb from the King James Bible: “A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger.”  On it’s own, Collected Letters is a great piece, but this particular placement in the museum might be the first time when the  Asian Art Museum has truly installed a work that bridges the gap between an early 20th Century library and a museum dedicated to Asian art. 

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