What does it mean to be gorgeous? This art book--as its cover, evocative of a popular fashion magazine, suggests--offers a provocative and entertaining approach to this question. It accompanies an exhibition of works from SFMOMA and the Asian Art Museum in stimulating new contexts. The goal is not a comparison of East and West but rather a collaborative venture into beauty at its extreme: the grotesque, the sad, the scary, the awe-inspiring, the comical. The artworks encourage readers to form their own responses to the question "What is gorgeous?" Highlights include works by Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, Marilyn Minter, Joan Miro', Meret Oppenheim, Ellsworth Kelly, and Pablo Picasso. Alongside are a 1000-year-old Indian sculpture of Durga victorious over the buffalo demon, a gilded and jeweled Burmese Buddhist alms bowl, 17th-century Japanese screens of Mt. Fuji and the beach at Miho by Kano Tan'yu, a decorated 16th-century Persian Koran, and many other exceptional works--startling and sometimes unsettling objects that cause us to reexamine our notions of the beautiful. Allison Harding and Forrest McGill of the Asian Art Museum curated the exhibition, in association with Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture, and Caitlin Haskell, assistant curator of painting and sculpture, at SFMOMA. This book includes contributions from each of them, along with lively original contributions from Lawrence Weschler, New Yorker contributor and author of, among others, Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative, and Christy Wampole, New York Times contributor and assistant professor of French at Princeton University.
About the Author
Allison Harding is assistant curator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum. Her publications include Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past. Forrest McGill is chief curator of the Asian Art Museum. His many publications include Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma, 1775-1950 and The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, 1350-1800.