A Great Teacher's Legacy: The James Cahill Asian Art Study Center

Friends and supporters at the dedication of BAMPFA's James Cahill Asian Art Study Center 2016

Friends and supporters at the dedication of BAMPFA's James Cahill Asian Art Study Center, March 2016

August 13 marked the birthday of Professor Emeritus James Cahill, who sadly passed away on February 14, 2014. His writings, teachings, and guidance were, and remain to this day, a driving force in Chinese painting studies. His legacy is honored here at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive through a state-of-the-art space in the new museum dedicated to the study of Asian Art. The James Cahill Asian Art Study Center houses BAMPFA’s world-renowned collection of Chinese and Japanese paintings, including many works collected personally by Professor Cahill. His collection, known widely as the Ching Yuan Chai Collection, includes paintings dating from as early as the Song dynasty to works by contemporary artists. The strength of the collection resides in the many fine examples of late Ming and early Qing paintings by some of the most important and influential painters of the period. This collection has formed the foundation for numerous exhibitions at BAMPFA, including last winter’s Repentant Monk: Illusion and Disillusion in the Art of Chen Hongshou and the 2016 exhibition of Chinese painting Summer Trees Casting Shade.

 Today BAMPFA welcomes students, faculty, and scholars to view Chinese and Japanese paintings in an intimate setting within the James Cahill Asian Art Study Center. Over the past three years we have welcomed visitors from Japan, Korea, China, Europe, and across the United States to view paintings with the curatorial staff. We are very proud to continue the Cahill tradition of teaching directly from real works of art, assuring that his legacy will continue in future generations.

 —Julia M. White, senior curator for Asian art