Asia Collection: China – Japan – Korea, Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna

The MAK Asia Collection is one of the most important collections for Asian art and handicrafts in Europe. Her precious works not only reveal their aesthetic qualities, but also provide information about the mutual influences of large cultures in many areas of art, thought and everyday life.

The MAK’s Asia Collection was created in the course of 150 years of museum history from public and private collections and offers a comprehensive insight into the art history of Asia.

The new presentation of the MAK Permanent Collection Asia on the ground floor of the museum opens up new perspectives. A new design concept developed together with the Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata. Right from the start, it was planned to redesign Kawamata’s modular spatial composition from 2014 after around two years.

“In Tadashi Kawamata, the MAK found the ideal artist to redesign the show collection. Since participating in the Venice Biennale in 1982, the artist, who lives in Paris and Tokyo, has been one of the most important contemporary artists in Asia and Europe. With their ephemeral character, his works are closely related to time and place, unobtrusively they connect different cultures. His installation Yusuke Nakahara’s Cosmology for the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2012 in Japan, which reinterpreted an extensive library of an art critic, convinced us to invite him to work with the MAK’s Asia Collection. ”(Johannes Wieninger, Curator Collection Asia)

Kawamata’s idea for the MAK Show Collection ASIA. China – Japan – Korea, on the ground floor of the museum, is based on the idea of ​​permanent change and the play of light and shadow. The exhibits are presented in large, scaffold-like showcase blocks, whereby “telling through objects” and linking these tales together result in a variety of viewing options. Kawamata will “embrace and embrace” the collection with his installation. At first glance it may seem chaotic, but this will only appear to contrast with the objects in the collection. Tadashi Kawamata exposes the works of art in a context that keeps both the viewer and the viewer in motion, because, according to the artist, “my projects are never finished, it seems natural to me that something will never be finished.”

Right from the start, it was planned to redesign Kawamata’s modular spatial composition from 2014 after around two years.

According to a revised room concept by Kawamata, the showcase modules were put together again in May 2016, and numerous objects from the MAK’s Asia collection were also replaced. Kawamata “frees” the works of art from the showcase and opens up a completely new view of the objects.

Asia Collection
Although the Asia department was only founded around 70 years ago, the MAK has shown competence in the field of Asian arts and crafts since it was founded, since it was not and is not possible to identify European material history without reference to Asian ones To represent works. As early as 1900, the MAK had a remarkable collection that documented the highlights of Asian cultures. The foundation stone for what is today the enormous scope of the Asian collection was laid in 1907 when it was richly supplemented with the takeover of the former Austrian Austrian Museum of Commerce. At that time, Heinrich Siebold’s extensive Japan collection also passed to today’s MAK, which he handed over to the Handelsmuseum in 1892.

Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer work, Japanese woodblock prints (Ukiyo-e) and Japanese stencils (Katagami) are the focal points of the Asian collection today.

The most important collection area – Chinese as well as Japanese ceramics and porcelain – contains extremely high-quality examples from different epochs, which represent the variety of East Asian ceramics from their origins. The focus of the collection is in line with the heyday of production in the 18th century. The most valuable works represented in this segment of the collection include an early blue and white plate from the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), tea ceramics from China and Japan, Chinese porcelain from the Kangxi period (1666–1722) from the August the Strong’s collection and a porcelain picture of Mount Fuji by the Japanese artist Kawamoto Masukichi (1831–1907), a gift from the Japanese government to the museum after the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873.

The high-quality collection of Japanese lacquer work includes objects from the early 17th century and is particularly rich in examples from the Meiji period (1868–1912). One of the outstanding objects in the collection is a Japanese lacquer painting in fan form by Ikeda Taishin (1829–1903). With 10,000 objects, the MAK’s Katagami collection is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. It gives an impressive overview of the manufacture, dyeing technique and history of ornaments of the Katagami, which has been considered a respected handicraft for dyeing leather, fabric and paper in Japan since the 7th century. Heinrich Siebold handed over 8,000 of the Japanese stencils collected here to the kk Handelsmuseum, whose holdings were transferred to the collection of the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry, now MAK, in 1907.

With around 4,200 sheets, the collection of Japanese woodblock prints is one of the most important Ukiyo-e collections in Europe and one of the larger collections of the MAK. The majority of the collection comes from private collections that found their way into the museum in a variety of ways, including the collections of Anton Exner, Richard Lieben and Heinrich Siebold. The MAK’s Ukiyo-e Collection brings together works by around 200 artists from the late 17th to the 20th century, including icons of Japanese art such as the landscape series 36 Views of Mount Fuji (Japan, c. 1830) by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) ) or sheets from the series 100 famous views of Edo(1857) by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), who were of crucial importance for the development of European modernism.

Based on the thesis that Japanese comics, manga, like Ukiyo-e originally influence the development of visual culture, the MAK Collection Asia is currently working on the creation of a manga collection that is intended to document the visual aesthetics of this mass phenomenon using exemplary examples.

In the museum presentation of the most outstanding objects from the Asian collection, the collection has been presented in a fundamentally redesigned showroom since 2014. Embedded in a site-specific artistic design by the internationally renowned artist Tadashi Kawamata, selected collection objects give an impressive insight into the art and cultures of East Asia.
The presentation of the MAK permanent collection ASIA. China – Japan – Korea on the ground floor of the museum is based on Kawamata’s idea of ​​permanent change and the play of light and shadow.

Parts of the MAK Asia Collection are already accessible online. In addition to the collection of Japanese color woodcuts / Ukiyo-e, which has already been fully recorded, almost 1,000 craft objects from China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam are listed in the MAK collection database MAK Collection online .

Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
The MAK – Museum of Applied Arts is one of the most important museums of its kind worldwide. Founded as the Imperial Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry in 1863, today’s museum—with its unique collection of applied arts and as a first-class address for contemporary art—can boast an incomparable identity. Originally established as an exemplary source collection, today’s MAK Collection continues to stand for an extraordinary union of applied art, design, contemporary art and architecture.

The MAK is a museum and laboratory for applied art at the interface of design, architecture and contemporary art. His core competency is dealing with these areas in a contemporary way, in order to create new perspectives based on the tradition of the house and to explore border areas.

The spacious halls of the Permanent Collection in the magnificent Ringstraße building by Heinrich von Ferstel were later redesigned by contemporary artists in order to present selected highlights from the MAK Collection. The MAK DESIGN LAB expands our understanding of design—a term that is traditionally grounded in the 20th and 21st centuries—by including previous centuries, thereby enabling a better evaluation of the concept of design today. In temporary exhibitions, the MAK presents various artistic stances from the fields of applied arts, design, architecture, contemporary art, and new media, with the mutual relationships between them being a consistently emphasized theme.

It is particularly committed to the corresponding recognition and positioning of applied art. The MAK develops new perspectives on its rich collection, which spans different eras, materials and artistic disciplines, and develops them rigorously.