Art World Wonders… Collection of Mountain Art Foundation

2023.03.25 - 2023.07.23 KMFA Galleries 101~103

Public museums and art museums were established alongside the emergence and development of democracy. Europeans began collecting art since the Renaissance. However, art collectors scarcely displayed their artistic treasures publicly at that time. It was until the French Revolution in the 18th century that people started to embrace the idea that works of art should not be exclusively owned by a small group of people. Instead, great works of art should be seen by more people if not all, and art museums were subsequently established to share art.
Collecting the works of living artists for private commercial reasons, as well as for pleasure, first blossomed in 17th-century Holland, but it was the 18th and early 19th centuries that saw the flowering of a golden age for the private collector. Then, many great masterpieces of antiquity, the Renaissance, and the 17th century were taken from their original settings and sold to foreign art collectors. This created a new type of competition for artists. They realized that their work would have to live up to comparisons that would inevitably be made between them and the major artists of the past, as well as with the artists of their own days. The modern pictures dealer came to the fore in the 19th century, when many of the famous firms that are still in existence today were founded. As the artist found greater freedom to express a private vision, rather than one that was shared with, or demanded by, a patron or institution, so the dealer became a very necessary intermediary between the artist and collector. Indeed, without the courage of a few adventurous dealers and collectors, many great masters of the Modern movement would have faced extreme difficulty surviving economically and would have lacked an indispensable source o encouragement.
This exhibition features the collection of Taiwanese entrepreneur Lin Ming-Che. Lin came into possession of his very first piece of art when he was nineteen years old and studying at the Tung Fang Junior College. Since then, he has been collecting art for more than five decades, and has amassed more than eight thousand artworks. The ninety pieces of artworks featured in this exhibition span an impressive period of five hundred years, starting from the 17th century to the 21st century, which coincides with the period when the roles and creative motives of artists drastically changed from craftsman to philosophers, from courtiers to merchants, from pupilage under art masters’ to learning at prestigious academies, with some inheriting classic traditions and others engaging in romantic and free pursuits. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a fundamental re-examination and exploration of many of the assumptions in the arts, science, and technology that had been established since the Renaissance. Many of the rules by which we define, describe, and explain our world were established. Modern masters were attracted to the arts not by thought of commercial gain or social status but by the opportunity to experiment, rewrite the rule book and successfully attract media attention.
The Chinese term “Shi-Jie” (meaning “the World” in English) was first appeared in the Shurangama Sutra: “‘Shi’ (time) refers to the changing flow, and ‘Jie’ (space) refers to location and direction”. Translators who brought the Buddhist sutra to East Asia translate the Sanskrit term“loka-dhatu” into the Chinese term “Shi-Jie” (world) –refers to the endless sentient existences unfolded by the power of illusion, the sensory perceptions and thoughts of human beings, which are layered and reflected in every work of art to convey its unique permanence and worldview embodied by the work. To artists, the objective of artistic creation is not merely the completion of an artwork, but is also about the various ways to approach the nature and truth of humanity. This exhibition invites audience to transcend time and space, and travel through reality and imagination to re-perceive this sentient world.
As a public art museum, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts has been actively building platforms to collaborate with art museums worldwide to display selected works from the collection on the one hand, and has also focused on introducing the bounteous art resources in the private sector to engender more diverse possibilities of education through research and curating. Through this exhibition, a special thank also goes to the Mountain Art Foundation for supporting the KMFA’s special art education program for students and children in remote areas.