| exhibitions

Emerald Cities main exhibition | Introduction | Exhibition review by Gary Gach | The Doris Duke Collection

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco October 23, 2009 - January 10, 2010

Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma 1775-1950

Emerald Cities is a lavishly illustrated catalog of artworks from Thailand and Burma, and provides an introduction to one of Asia's richest and least known artistic traditions. Focusing primarily on decorative and religious objects from the nineteenth century, Emerald Cities brings to light the lively, yet often strained, interchange between the regions of central and northern Thailand (Siam) and Burma.

While representing the latest art historical scholarship, Emerald Cities is also an accessible entry into the world of Thailand and Burma, and highlights such luxuriant and spectacular artworks as gilded and mirrored ritual vessels, black lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, and vibrant, colorful paintings. These objects convey an exotic and exuberant ambiance which transports the reader to a lost time and place, one unlike any other.

Can be ordered in association with from

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Asian Art Museum (October 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939117509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939117505
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pound


Doris Duke: The Southeast Asian Art Collection

In 1925, twelve-year-old Doris Duke inherited a substantial fortune from her father, James B. Duke, a successful industrialist whose family founded the Duke Power Company and the American Tobacco Company. Doris Duke was an intensively private woman who disdained the celebrity that she inherited along with her wealth. In 1935 at age 22, she embarked on a honeymoon journey around the world, visiting Egypt, the near East, India, Singapore, Bangkok, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Japan, as well as sites in Europe. The cultures of Asia sparked Doris Duke's passion for Islamic and Southeast Asian art and culture, which in turn shaped the course of her life's work and cultural endeavors.

Inspired by her honeymoon travels, Doris Duke built a winter home in Honolulu in the late 1930s called Shangri La, which houses the vast and unique collection of Islamic art that she assembled over more than 60 years. In 1957, Doris Duke returned to Thailand for the first time since her honeymoon, and its art and culture subsequently became a major focus of her collecting. Over the next few years, she would embark on a new project: to recreate and furnish a Thai village--complete with a replica of a pavilion from the temple compound of the Royal Palace in Bangkok--to educate the American public about Southeast Asian art and culture. She envisioned the village as a gift for the people of Hawai'i.

Doris Duke: The Southeast Asian Art Collection features some of the objects she collected for the Thai Village Project, and reveals the passion and talent of Doris Duke as a collector. It informs readers about the historical significance of the art and offers substantial visual rewards. The author contextualizes and describes objects in three main areas of the collection: sculpture, painting, and decorative and performing arts. This book's 100 plates and figures illustrate over 200 of the more than 2,000 objects in Doris Duke's collection, including works from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and China that exemplify the breadth and quality of the collection: tall, elaborately carved pulpits from which a Buddhist priest would address worshipers and monks; gilded figures of the Buddha; accordion-folded manuscripts and their decorated storage boxes; tall cabinets used for manuscript storage; offering vessels inlaid with mother-of-pearl; lacquer, nielloware, and the bencharong ceramics made in China for the Thai market; carved ivory objects; and weapons.

In the course of her life, Doris Duke undertook a series of ambitious projects, both public and private, including Shangri La, the Thai Village Project, Duke Gardens at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, and the preservation of eighteenth-century architecture in Newport, Rhode Island. Of these endeavors, only the Thai Village Project was never completed, mainly due to obstacles in securing an appropriate site in Hawai'i. For nearly 30 years, its artworks and structures remained on public display and in storage at her New Jersey estate. To honor Miss Duke's intention that the collection be used to inform the public about Southeast Asian art and culture, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation recently donated many of the objects to The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Walters Art Museum of Baltimore and will be making additional gifts in 2003. This book is another aspect of the foundation's commitment to share her collection more broadly.

Can be ordered in association with from

  • Hardcover: 104 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press (July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824827732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824827731
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 10.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds

Emerald Cities main exhibition | Introduction | Exhibition review by Gary Gach | The Doris Duke Collection | exhibitions