Art, Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions and Installations, Prints and Drawings, Voices

Getty Voices: Looking East, Looking West

The adventure started over a simple lunch and a small book in my mother language. Stephanie Schrader, associate curator of drawings at the Getty Museum, shared her exhibition-in-conception with me and handed me a pocket-size book in Korean entitled The Joseon Man, Antonio Korea, Meets Rubens by Professor Kwak Cha-seop, a historian in South Korea. Never did I suspect back then that I would be working on the “Looking East” exhibition with Stephanie a few years later.

Man in Korean Costume / Rubens

Man in Korean Costume, 1617, Peter Paul Rubens. Black and red chalk on paper, 15 1/8 x 9 1/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 83.GB.384

When my Getty graduate internship started in the fall of 2011, my involvement in “Looking East” quickly became more substantial.  As a Korean studying the history of Western art in the United States, my ethnic and educational background was fundamental to the task of linguistic and cultural translation, which was crucial not only to understanding the exhibition’s theme of East-West contact, but also to connecting Getty staff with Korean collaborators in Los Angeles and Korea. This work mainly took the form of translating virtually all email and documents to English from Korean, and accompanying Stephanie as a translator on her business trip to Seoul and at many meetings with potential Korean-speaking financial and media sponsors. With a cross-cultural lens, I assisted with research, reviewed and edited the essays for the related publication, and wrote labels for some of the objects in the exhibition.

Stephanie and I (seated, far right) with colleagues at the National Museum of Korea, Seoul, in November 2011. Back row, standing: left to right: Lee Jae-jeong, Moon Dong Soo, Min Kil-hong. Front row, seated, left to right: Lee Won Bok, Burglind Jungmann, Stephanie Schrader, Jessie Park

The exhibition presents the earliest encounters between Korea/Asia and Europe, and this larger project of “looking East” established a platform for a dialogue between Korean costume historians, historians of Korean art, historians of European art, and Rubens scholars. This dialogue helped us to understand the enduring importance of Peter Paul Rubens’s “Man in Korean Costume” within Korea.

This exchange between scholars of multiple nationalities led to collaboration across the globe, resulting in a wonderful display of Korean and European works of art in one exhibition for the first time in the States, and much fruitful and exciting research presented at a recent symposium at the Getty. At the same time, this dialogue occasionally came with a culturally-filtered reading of the exhibition-related material. The perspectives from the East and the West made sense to me; I found myself standing between people of two different cultures, helping them understand each other.

Through the exhibition, the West looks east to further grasp the history, culture, and mentalities that uniquely shaped Korea and thereby to understand why Rubens’s incredible drawing continues to pique the interest of Koreans and, more broadly, Korean-Americans. Meanwhile, Korea looks west to trace its earliest encounters with Europe, albeit indirectly through the Jesuits in China, and to reconstruct its ability to captivate the eyes of Rubens, his contemporaries, and beyond. Rubens’s Man in Korean Costume is where the West meets the East, and the East meets the West.

Connect with more “Looking East, Looking West” content from this week’s Getty Voices:

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  • By Rubens’ Korea | Think East West | 東西思考 on March 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    […] Getty Voices: Looking East, Looking West Jessie Park | March 25, 2013   The adventure started over a simple lunch and a small book in my mother language. Stephanie Schrader, associate curator of drawings at the Getty Museum, shared her exhibition-in-conception with me and handed me a pocket-size book in Korean entitled The Joseon Man, Antonio Korea, Meets Rubens by Professor Kwak Cha-seop, a historian in South Korea. Never did I suspect back then that I would be working on the “Looking East” exhibition with Stephanie a few years later.   http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/getty-voices-looking-east-looking-west/ […]

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      #ProvenancePeek: July 31

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This small panel by Dutch master Gerrit Dou (photographed only in black and white) is now in the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. It was sold to American collector Robert Sterling Clark, an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, in the summer of 1922.

      How do we know this? Archival sleuthing! A peek into the handwritten stock books of M. Knoedler & Co. (book 7, page 10, row 40, to be exact) records the Dou in “July 1922” (right page, margin). Turning to the sales books, which lists dates and prices, we again find the painting under the heading “New York July 1922,” with its inventory number 14892. A tiny “31” in superscript above Clark’s name indicates the date the sale was recorded.

      M. Knoedler was one of the most influential dealers in the history of art, selling European paintings to collectors whose collections formed the genesis of great U.S. museums. The Knoedler stock books have recently been digitized and transformed into a searchable database, which anyone can query for free.

      Girl at a Window, 1623–75, Gerrit Dou. Oil on panel, 10 9/16 x 7 ½ in. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts


      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.

      07/31/15

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