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GORGEOUS: Exhibition explores the extremes of beauty, combining exceptional artworks from the acclaimed collections of the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA to challenge preconceptions of what constitutes the gorgeous.

SAN FRANCISCO, April 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A selection of 72 stunning artworks drawn from the collections of the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) challenges visitors to confront the extremes and the ambiguities of beauty in the special exhibition Gorgeous. On view June 20 through Sept. 14, 2014, at the Asian Art Museum, the exhibition is organized in partnership with SFMOMA as part of SFMOMA's On the Go program, an ambitious multiyear off-site programming effort presented while its building is closed for expansion construction.

Torso of a female deity (detail), 1400-1600. Southern India. Stone. Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B63S3. © Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

Featuring an extraordinary mix of objects, Gorgeous spans more than 2,200 years and dozens of cultures to bring together artworks that, in a variety of ways, extend beyond conventional notions of beauty. Presenting these paintings, sculptures, photographs, design objects and drawings in new and unexpected contexts, the exhibition aims to stimulate viewers to examine their ideas of what it means for something to be gorgeous.

As a starting point, the curators have suggested fluid groupings in which the artworks might be assembled. Those groupings are titled "Seduction," "Dress Up," "Pose," "In Bounds," "Danger," "Beyond Imperfection," "Reiteration," "Fantasy," "Evocation" and "On Reflection." But many works could fit under more than one heading, and the unexpected groupings on view represent just a few of many possibilities.

The objects in Gorgeous are not easily categorized, and embracing their resistance to classification is an essential part of the project. The exhibition goes beyond traditional debate about the nature of beauty, and is not meant to provide a contrast of "East" and "West." Instead, it aims to engage visitors in an ongoing conversation about what makes something not merely beautiful but gorgeous.

Many of the artworks push boundaries. They balance on the tipping point between the seductive and the repulsive, the disturbing and the comforting, the intimate and the ironic, the serene and the obsessive. Some depictions of people include opulent adornments while others offer frank portrayals of the human form. The exhibition also encompasses objects ranging from a silver elephant seat from India and a Chinese lacquered imperial chair to such contemporary objects as the first-generation iPhone and a gold-plated coke spoon by Tobias Wong and Ju$t Another Rich Kid. Visitors will encounter everything from works of fantastical elaboration to triumphs of conceptual elegance and simplicity, from serene sacred objects to luxury consumer goods. As part of the educational experience, visitors will be encouraged to curate their own exhibition using reproductions of artworks in a tactile interactive display.

Highlights of the exhibition include paintings, sculptures and photographs from SFMOMA's holdings by Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, Marilyn Minter, Joan Miro, Meret Oppenheim, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pablo Picasso and others. From the Asian Art Museum, the exhibition features works spanning the extent of Asia, including a 1,000-year-old Indian sculpture of the Hindu deity Durga victorious over the buffalo demon; a gilded and jeweled Burmese Buddhist bowl; a Korean textile artwork with complex geometric designs; a decorated Qur'an from 16th-century Persia; a set of silk scrolls by the artist Chobunsai Eishi (1756–1829), "Three types of beauties in Edo;" and Hua Yan's (1682–1756) gold-surfaced ink paintings "Summer gatherings in mountain villas," along with other works in a variety of mediums.

Gorgeous is curated by Allison Harding, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum, and Forrest McGill, Wattis senior curator of South and Southeast Asian art and director of the Asian Art Museum's Research Institute for Asian Art, in association with Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture at SFMOMA, and Caitlin Haskell, assistant curator of painting and sculpture at SFMOMA.

The exhibition is accompanied by a lively magazine-style catalogue with entries by the Asian Art Museum curators; essays by Harding, Haskell and McGill; and additional essays by Pulitzer Prize nominee Lawrence Weschler (director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities of NYU) and frequent New York Times contributor Christy Wampole (assistant professor of French at Princeton University).

Gorgeous was organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Asian Art Museum is the only venue for the exhibition. Presentation at the Asian Art Museum is made possible with the generous support of Prospect Creek Foundation, Fred Eychaner, Helen and Charles R. Schwab, Doris Fisher, The Bernard Osher Foundation, United Airlines, The Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Fund for Excellence in Exhibitions and Presentations, Jim Breyer, Eliza and Dean Cash, Sakurako and William Fisher, Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, Hiro and Betty Jean Ogawa, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Lucy Sun and Warren Felson, Jean and James E. Douglas, Jr., Carol and Dixon Doll, and Linda and Jon Gruber.


The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco's premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.


Founded as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project that will significantly enhance gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase its expanded permanent collection and serve its growing audiences. During the construction of its new building from the summer of 2013 to early 2016, the museum will go beyond its walls and directly into the community with an extensive array of off-site programming, including collaborative and traveling exhibitions, site-specific and commissioned projects, and new education initiatives throughout the city and region. For more information about SFMOMA, its off-site programming, and its expansion project, visit


For Asian Art Museum
Annie Tsang
[email protected]

Christine Choi
[email protected]

Strut, 2004-2005, by Marilyn Minter (American, b. 1948). Enamel on metal. Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase: gift of Johanna and Thomas Baruch, Charles J. Betlach II, Shawn and Brook Byers, Nancy and Steven Oliver, and Prentice and Paul Sack, 2005.187. Courtesy of the artist, SFMOMA and Salon 94, New York.

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SOURCE Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA

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