Guggenheim gets $10 m grant for new art

Updated: 2013-03-20 10:56

By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York (China Daily)

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 Guggenheim gets $10 m grant for new art

From left: Alexandra Munroe, Samsung senior curator of Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; museum director Richard Armstrong; Thomas Berghuis, curator of Chinese art; Ted Lipman, CEO and president of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation; and Jean Miao, foundation operations director. Provided to China Daily

New York's Guggenheim Museum will receive a $10 million grant from the Hong Kong-based Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation to commission art from China.

The endowment will also support Thomas Berghuis, deputy director of the Australian Center for Asian Art and Archeology, in his new appointment as the Guggenheim's curator of Chinese contemporary art, the museum announced on Tuesday.

"I think previously the museum was overly focused on a single aesthetic related to Bauhaus thinking. Gradually, in the past five years our focus has become bigger and broader," said Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong.

"Now when we say we're a global institution, we can manifest that in many different ways like this, and it's not just rhetoric any longer," he said.

The grant will allow the museum to commission artwork from three or more artists or artist groups for the museum's permanent collection, to be displayed between 2014 and 2017. Berghuis will travel often to China to meet artists and promote various cultural exchanges, Armstrong said.

The commissioned work will be shown in the Guggenheim's various museums worldwide, which include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain and a new museum for which ground has been broken in Abu Dhabi.

The Ho Foundation is a private philanthropic organization with a Buddhist philosophical bent. In 2009 it launched a permanent gallery of Buddhist sculpture at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. The grant represents an ongoing commitment to a relationship with the Guggenheim.

The foundation sponsored Cai Guoqiang's 2008 exhibition "I Want to Believe" and in 2009 brought "The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989" to the Manhattan museum.

"Working with the Guggenheim, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation seems to foster new creativity in the field of contemporary Chinese art," the chairman of the foundation's board, Robert Y.C. Ho, said in a statement.

The opportunity to educate audiences is particularly important in light of Western misconceptions and occasional ignorance about Chinese art and culture, Armstrong said.

"Culture always lags behind the political realities, and the understanding of Chinese art is considerably behind," he said.

"Most of all I hope that through this initiative our audience will have a new respect for contemporary China and its achievements. I hope that as citizens of the world, we can demonstrate that art can be a very meaningful way to engage one another, and a way of talking about something other than our problems."