The history of Asia through its art

From the sixth century before Christ to the nineteenth century. The 68 works that are part of the exhibition Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragonwhich can be visited from today in the Barrie Foundation and until January 22, make up a review of the history of Asia through its art. The John H. Foster Associate Curator of Premodern Art at the Asia Society Museum, Laura A. Weinstein, recalled that he was the grandfather of John D. Rockefeller III the one who started collecting art; his son, in 1950, wrote to ask for a million dollars because he wanted to buy his first Chinese porcelain and thus continue his legacy.

The Asian art collection of the Rockefeller couple arrives at the Barrié


The Asian art collection of the Rockefeller couple arrives at the Barrié
Carlos Pardellas

This way of understanding culture was also inherited by his son and continued during his marriage to Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, with whom, in the years after World War II, he decided to focus on acquiring pieces that represented the technical skills and creativity of Asian artists. They defended, as Weinstein explained in a guided visit to the media, that Acquiring these works and sharing them with the American population through exhibitions could work for the United States and Asia to improve their understanding in a few turbulent years of the cold war. The total collection of the marriage has about three hundred pieces of which 68 are exhibited for the first and only time in Europe in A Coruñaafter having toured the fifty states of the United States and much of the rest of the world.

One of the pieces exhibited in the exhibition Carlos Pardellas

“It was not easy”, the executive director of the American Federation of Arts, Pauline Willis, was honest. And it is that, when this institution, the Asia Society Museum —the institution to which the collection was bequeathed on Rockefeller’s death— and the Barrié, were already working on this landing of the collection in A Coruña, obstacles began to arise, such as the coronavirus pandemic or more recently Hurricane Ian, which delayed the arrival of the pieces by a week.

Pieces from the exhibition, at the Barrié Foundation. Carlos Pardellas

Weinstein explained that visitors should not miss any of the exhibits, which cover the history and art made in Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam, although they should pay special attention to the ceramics, since one of the trays, despite being Chinese, has the particularity of having been created for use in the Islamic context, since it is very large and responds to the custom of sharing food; also a small well-crafted chalice and a representation of an animal that accompanies it and symbolizes good fortune; the figure of a musician that, unlike what was typical at the time it was created, has three colors, blue, ocher and green, a mixture of the previous two, when normal, in the century VIII in China was the use of only two colors, in this type of representations; a food jar from the 6th century BC, and some bronze sculptures, which Rodin considered to be the most important on the planet. And, of course, the representations of Buddha and Shiva.

The exhibition is complemented by a cycle of conferences of art experts Krahe Noblett tape (October 27); Eva Fernández del Campo (November 3) and María del Pilar Cabañas Moreno (November 10) and also with the content director of Crtvg, Fernando R. Ojea, who will talk about Rockefeller’s visit to Galicia on his trip around the world in 1929.