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The Asian Art Museum—well known for its vast collection of Asian art antiquities—unveils highlights and recent acquisitions in Asian Art Museum's expanding collection of contemporary art with its second of two contemporary art exhibitions, this one featuring highlights of its contemporary art collection acquired over the past 15 years. Visitors will have a taste of the museum's most exciting additions in First Look: Collecting Contemporary at the Asian, on view Sept. 4–Oct. 11, 2015.

Organized by guest curator Allison Harding, the exhibition presents more than 40 artworks, many on view for the first time, that connect us to Asia's histories and traditions with the immediacy of contemporary ideas.

Today, the Asian Art Museum collection features more than 18,000 artworks, including more than 1,100 works created in the past 55 years. First Look displays a range of mediums from photography, animation and video to contemporary Korean ceramics, Chinese ink paintings, sculptural Japanese baskets, drawings and more. An intentional relationship to Asian art and ideas ties these diverse pieces together.

Untitled, No. 25 (2008)
Works debuting in First Look include two animated new media pieces by Japanese technologists teamLab. Untitled, No. 25 (2008) is an iconic photographic image by the husband and wife team, RongRong and Inri, depicting the couple with their hair braided together, literally joining them as one. In Ahmed Mater's Illumination Waqf (2013), a diptych print in the form of an Islamic manuscript with decorated borders, shows X-rays of two human figures, as if in conversation.

"To truly understand the contemporary, you must understand the tradition from which it emerged," says Harding. "First Look embodies how tradition can inspire new works in the present and continue to impact contemporary life."

Art dealing with landscape, whether everyday scenes or representations of spiritual connections to nature, runs throughout the museum's entire collection. The contemporary works in First Look examine this traditional subject in bold, unique ways, which are exemplified in Zhu Jinshi's painting The Third Time Going to the Yellow Mountain (2011) and Okura Jiro's wooden sculpture Chair for the Breeze (1973).

First Look also features several contemporary Chinese ink paintings, highlighting a blossoming area in the museum. The collection currently has more than 70 works by leading artists in the field, including an artwork by Lu Shoukun, the pioneer of the New Ink Movement in Hong Kong. The exhibition will display Lu's painting Chan (1974) alongside other works such as C.C. Wang's Brush Symphony (1998), which reinterpreted traditional forms. The exhibition will also showcase works by artists who have pushed the medium beyond paper to video, as seen in Xu Bing's The Character of Characters (2012) and Yang Yongliang's The Night of Perpetual Day (2013).

First Look follows 28 Chinese (June 5–Aug. 16, 2015), a special exhibition at the museum featuring some of China's most exciting artists from the country's booming contemporary art scene. Reflecting a growing commitment to present contemporary art, the Asian Art Museum recently announced the appointment of Dr. Karin G. Oen as the museum's assistant curator of contemporary art. Oen arrives at the museum as it kicks off its summer of contemporary exhibitions.

First Look was organized by the Asian Art Museum. Presentation at the Asian Art Museum is made possible with the generous support of The Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Fund for Excellence in Exhibitions and Presentations.

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