BAMPFA Dedicates New Asian Art Study Center in the Name of Influential Asian Art Scholar James Cahill

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Dedicates New Asian Art Study Center in the Name of Influential Asian Art Scholar James Cahill and Announces the Receipt of a Gift of a Landmark Fourteenth-Century Chinese Painting

Sun Junze: Landscape with Buildings, early fourteenth century; ink and colors on silk;
gift of Sarah Cahill in memory of her father James Cahill

(Berkeley, CA) March 7, 2016—The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) dedicated its new Asian art study center in the name of the late professor emeritus at UC Berkeley and influential Asian art scholar and collector James Cahill (1926–2014) at a ceremony on Monday, March 7, 2016. The dedication coincides with the announcement that Cahill’s daughter, Sarah Cahill, has made a major gift to BAMPFA of a landmark fourteenth-century Chinese landscape painting in the memory of her father. The painting is one of only five known signed works by the Yuan dynasty painter Sun Junze.

The newly christened James Cahill Asian Art Study Center is a study and storage area for BAMPFA’s important collection of historical Asian artworks, including its renowned Chinese paintings. Outfitted with customized, archival storage spaces and furnishings, the space will help BAMPFA care for these works and make them more accessible to researchers, students, and visitors. The naming of this space after Cahill reflects the invaluable contributions he made to both the University and to BAMPFA. The center will officially open by appointment beginning in May.

“James Cahill was one of the most renowned scholars of Chinese painting in the world,” says BAMPFA director Lawrence Rinder. “He was deservedly famous for his keen eye, sharp mind, deep curiosity, and independent spirit. Jim is one of the key figures in the history of BAMPFA. Through his generosity and guidance, we have become one of the leading institutions for the presentation and study of historical Asian art in the United States.”

Little is known about the artist Sun Junze other than he was active in the southern city of Hangzhou, China in the first half of the fourteenth century, during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). A Chinese document that lists important painters throughout history briefly describes Sun Junze “as a native of Hangzhou, skilled in painting landscapes and figures in which he imitated [Song painters] Ma Yuan and Xia Gui.

The subject of BAMPFA’s newly acquired Sun Junze painting, Landscape with Buildings, is an elegant aristocratic villa on a riverbank surrounded by tall pine trees and bamboo. The blossoming water lilies define the season as summer. An attendant to the owner of the villa can be seen on the terrace in anticipation of the arrival of guests, a gentleman and his servant approaching on the pathway to the right. The architectural detail is precise and skillfully rendered. The pines with their stately presence, the down-swept branches arching over the scene, and the distinctive “axe-cut” brushstrokes defining the mass of the rocks in the lower left corner all reflect the influence of Southern Song Academy paintings from the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Yet Sun Junze imbues his painting with greater clarity and compositional organization favored by the artists of the Yuan.

James Cahill purchased this Sun Junze painting in New York in 1968 and published it in his 1976 monograph on Chinese painting of the Yuan dynasty, Hills Beyond a River. An astute collector and connoisseur, as well as a great teacher and much admired speaker, Cahill created one of the most important collections of Chinese painting in the United States. BAMPFA is the proud home of this collection and welcomes this very generous gift into the permanent collection. Landscape with Buildings and over fifty other paintings will be featured in Summer Trees Casting Shade: Chinese Paintings at Berkeley, the First Fifty Years an exhibition celebrating the richness and depth of the collection to be held from July 6 to September 25, 2016.

"My father's long relationship with BAMPFA was always extremely important to him, and he would have been so proud and happy to see this beautiful new study center named after him,” adds Sarah Cahill. “For him, Sun Junze's Landscape with Buildings was especially rewarding for students to study and research and contemplate, and it belongs in the permanent collection at the museum for future generations.  I can't think of a better way to honor my father's legacy."

Summer Trees Casting Shade: Chinese Painting at Berkeley, the First Fifty Years 

July 6 through September 25, 2016
Summer Trees Casting Shade celebrates the breadth and depth of BAMPFA’s acclaimed Chinese painting collection with over fifty works dating from the twelfth to nineteenth centuries. Works range from monumental landscapes to intimate views of quiet gardens, and from figures of lofty gentlemen to seldom-depicted street characters and beggars. This exhibition brings together the greatest paintings of the collection for the first time in ten years. The exhibition is curated by BAMPFA Senior Curator for Asian Art Julia M White.

Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and film. Founded in 1963, BAMPFA is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue with its screenings of some 450 films and presentations of up to twenty exhibitions annually. BAMPFA’s mission is to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.

The institution’s collection of over 19,000 works of art dates from 3000 BCE to the present day and includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and Conceptual art. BAMPFA’s collection also includes over 17,500 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, impressive holdings of Soviet cinema, West Coast avant-garde film, seminal video art, as well as hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film—many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.

Peter Cavagnaro, BAMPFA

Posted by pcavagnaro on March 07, 2016