Minneapolis Institute of Arts acquires the Clark collection of Japanese art

Suzuki Kiitsu, Mount Fuji from Miho-no-matsubara, late Edo period, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Clark collection.

Suzuki Kiitsu, Mount Fuji from Miho-no-matsubara, late Edo period, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Clark collection.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has significantly expanded its Japanese art collections through the recent acquisition of the collection of Bill and Libby Clark, founders of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, California. The Clark collection is well known worldwide for its outstanding quality and it includes paintings and prints, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and bamboo objects. It holds many objects by contemporary ceramist Fukami Sueharu, but also works by famous painters such as Soga Shōhaku and Itō Jakuchū.

The acquisition can be called remarkable as the Clark collection was not a ‘homeless’ collection. It was part of an active private museum, situated in a beautiful Japanese-style complex in central California.  Andreas Marks, director of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, will move with the collection to Minneapolis and becomes the new Head of the Japanese and Korean Art department as well as Director of the newly established Clark Center within the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Does this acquisition mark a new development in the art world? Often private collectors are frustrated or unhappy with regular museum practice and think that their collection and the general audience is best served through a private museum. Here however, a major private art collection, which was kept, studied and exhibited within the infrastructure of a private museum, now becomes part of a ‘regular’ museum. The reasoning behind this particular acquisition is that it is in fact in the interest of the Clark collection and that this collection can prosper even more within the environment of an established art institution. So I am interested to learn if this will become a trend and whether in due course more private museums will join forces and collaborate with established museum collections. The Clark Center for Japanese Arts and Culture and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts have at least set an interesting example.

Mochizuki Gyokusen, Black Bull, late Edo-Meiji period, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Clark collection.

Mochizuki Gyokusen, Black Bull, late Edo-Meiji period, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Clark collection.

The first exhibition of the Clark collection in Minneapolis is entitled The Audacious Eye: Japanese Art from the Clark Collections and will open on October 6, 2013.  It will show 120 master works from the collection that now counts circa 1700 objects of Japanese art. Bill and Libby Clark did not have one certain medium or topic in mind when collecting, they just acquired what they liked and that has resulted in a rich and impressive collection of  Japanese art.

The Clark Center in Hanford will remain a location for Japanese art exhibitions, amongst others as a venue for the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

For more information see the website of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Clark Center for Japanese Arts and Culture.