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Special Exhibitions

Through Sept 14

"For thousands of years, people have had scholarly debates about what constitutes beauty. This show doesn’t want to do that" (The Daily Beast). No, it doesn't. Instead, this show is about YOU and the way you look at, interpret and react to art. With 72 artworks from both the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA spanning a big chunk of time and dozens of cultures, it's no surprise that SF Weekly called Gorgeous"one of the year's most provocative exhibits." However, it closes very soon, so get in here and see what "gorgeous" means to you. Bonus: come on a Thursday night after 5pm and see it for just $5. There might even been a special talk, program, or lively program going on.


Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism
Through Oct 26

Enter the Mandala explores the physical and symbolic geography of the mandala, a geometric map of Himalayan Buddhist visionary worlds. In this exhibition, Tibetan masterpieces transform a gallery into a three-dimensional architectural mandala. In this way, visitors can literally “enter the mandala,” experiencing dimensions of the cosmos—and perhaps themselves—that might otherwise remain invisible. It may sound a little trippy, but trust us, it's very cool.

From Two Arises Three: The Collaborative Works of Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney
Through Mar 1, 2015

When Chinese ink painter Arnold Chang and photographer Michael Cherney met for the first time in 2007, there was synergy. They recognized a compatibility between Chang’s personal brushwork and Cherney’s granular photographs. These 20 works, both individual and corroborative by Chang and Cherney, strive to bridge the gap between the traditions of Chinese ink painting and contemporary art.

Programs and Events

Asia Alive: Luster
Sat, Aug 2, 12–4 pm
FREE with admission

Mugwumpin, a risk-taking, award-winning theater and performance ensemble, joins forces with acclaimed photographer Pak Han to bring visions of lush beauty to life. Through a series of interactions with Mugwumpin, audiences are invited to work up an appetite for the ravishing and sublime.


Family Fun Days: First and Third Sundays
Sun, Aug 3 and 17, 10:30 am–4 pm
FREE with museum admission

Every first and third Sunday of the month are Family Fun Days! Kids 5 and older can learn more about the elements of art while searching our collection with an Elements of Art Explorer Pack. Kids 3-6, can develop visual and verbal literacy with the stART tour.

First Thursdays: My Gorgeous Fetish
Thurs, Aug 7, 6–9 pm
FREE with admission (just $5 after 5)

Get tied up in the performance artwork Evoco, Midori’s production combining flowers, rope, flesh and ink to transform a moving body into a series of restrained sculptures and residual prints. On this evening, there'll also be a gallery talk by Jeff Durham, assistant curator of Himalayan art at the Asian Art Museum, titled Gold Rush: The Aura of an Ore as a part of the Gorgeous Idea talk series. Please be advised that this event may include nudity.

Perspectives on Persian Art
Ancient Persian Gardens: Evolution and Legacy with Professor David Stronach

Sat, Aug 23, 1–2:30 pm
FREE with admission

Explore the extraordinary traditions and world-wide influence of Persian art through this new four-part lecture series highlighting current research happening in the field. David Stronach, University of California at Berkeley professor emeritus of Near Eastern art and archaeology, kicks off the series with a lively talk about the influence of traditional Persian gardens in Asia and Europe. For more information, visit SAA.

Korea Day
Sun, Aug 24, 11 am–4 pm
FREE with admission

Round up your favorite folks for the ultimate family-friendly Korean-style festival. Global interest in Korea has expanded beyond K-pop and TV dramas to encompass hangul (the Korean alphabet), hansik (Korean food) and hanbok (traditional Korean clothing). And on Korea Day, we’ve got you covered in all these areas with an array of activities and artists. On top of the tastings, tours, art activities, talks and performances, you can also enjoy the Gorgeous exhibition in its final weeks. Share with friends on Facebook.

Other Events in August:
FREE guided tours
8/14 - Sex, Chocolate and Kimonos w/Tina Takemoto
8/15 - A Week by the Lakeside of the Goddess of Ghee w/Suzanne Klotz
8/28 - Artists Drawing Club: Breathe w/Jung Ran Bae
8/30 - Japanese Tea


For Members

Members' Tour, Talk and Tea: Gorgeous/Grotesque
Sat, Aug 23, 11 am–1 pm
Meet at the Info Desk

Join us for a members-only tour of Gorgeous, which brings together masterworks from our collection and SFMOMA’s to present diverse perspectives on beauty.  These artworks are organized to shift the focus from historical and cultural contexts, emphasizing instead on the unique ways each work attracts your attention.  Following the tour, participate in an engaging discussion over tea and treats with your tour guide and fellow members.

Free and open to all members.  Space is limited and registration is required.  Please contact 415.581.3740 or members@asianart.org to reserve your place.  Priority will be given to members who have not yet attended a Tour, Talk and Tea this year.


Gorgeous Postcards for Members
Pick up at the Member Desk

As a limited-time promotion in conjunction with Gorgeous, the first 500 people to renew or join as members onsite receive a free postcard set featuring artworks from the exhibition!  The postcard sets are available for pickup at the museum’s Member Desk while supplies last. 

Contact us at 415.581.3740 or members@asianart.org or visit us in person to find out more about this special offer.


Museum Store

Gorgeous Handbags Just In Time For Summer
Now Available in the Store

Make your summer extra gorgeous by adding a beautiful new handbag to your collection!  Each bag is constructed out of pieces of traditional Rajasthani textiles adorned with beads or sequins making each bag unique. Fully lined with an interior pocket, each bag is large enough to hold a sweater, water bottle, wallet and a book or two—perfect for running around the city while making a statement. 

Retail: $50, members: $45.


Our Recommendations

Nippon Nights at The Roxie
Thurs, Aug 21 and Sun, Aug 24
3117 16th St, SF

This month the Roxie Theater is showing two early Japanese animated classics. First up is cult favorite Akira (8/21), by Katsuhiro Otomo, the second installment in the Nippon Nights: Neon Tokyo series. The Roxie will also be showing 4 episodes of Osamu Tezuka’s classic TV series Astro Boy (8/21) as part of Roxie Kids (free for children!). Tezuka is considered the Father of Anime, and is noted by Hayao Miyazaki as one of his greatest inspirations. Showtimes and tickets, as well as the entire lineups for both series can be found at Roxie.com.


Asian Art Museum
Chong-Moon Lee Center
for Asian Art & Culture
200 Larkin Street
SF, CA  94102

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Gorgeous was organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 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, William Mathews Brooks, 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., and an anonymous donor. Media sponsors: San Francisco Examiner, 7x7. Presentation of From Two Arises Three: The Collaborative Works of Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney at the Asian Art Museum is made possible with the generous support of The Shau-Wai & Marie Lam Family Foundation. Lead funding for the Asian Art Museum’s Artists Drawing Club is provided by Wells Fargo.

Torso of a female deity, 1400–1600. Southern India. Stone. Courtesy of Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B63S3+; After Li Sixun 2(detail), 2013, by Michael Cherney (American, b. 1969) and Arnold Chang (American, b. 1954). Photographic inkjet print and ink on paper. Lent from the Collection of Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney, R2014.4.6; Star-shaped tile with gazelle, approx. 1250–1300. Iran; probably Kashan. Glazed fritware, underglaze. Courtesy of Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B60P2036; all other images courtesy of their respective organizers and/or artists.

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