MIA casts an ‘audacious eye’ on major acquisition of Japanese art

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ new curator, Andreas Marks, is bursting with energy and industry.

At a recent press lunch, the recently appointed head of the Department of Japanese and Korean Art took attendees on a whirlwind tour of the MIA’s new show “The Audacious Eye,” which opens to the general public on Sunday. Hee recounted the history of Japanese art and singled out exhibition highlights at a breakneck pace to get his guests through the eight gallery exhibition in just under 15 minutes.

Artist Unknown Daiitoku myōō 13th cent., second half (Kamakura period)

Not only is he fleet of foot, the German-born Marks is also a prodigious writer. He’s written nine books on Japanese art in the last four years.

Marks puts partial blame for his publishing frenzy on the lack of a cultural scene at his last post in Hanford, Calif., where he served as director of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture.

When the Clarks decided to hand over its art collection worth an estimated $25 million to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Marks came with it.

Andreas Marks, Head of the Department of Japanese and Korean Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Image courtesy of the MIA)

For Marks, it’s a happy move.

“I’m not a friend of superlatives,” he said, “but I have to believe that the MIA is number one in the Western world in terms of its dedication to Japanese art.” By dedication he means not just how many pieces the museum owns, but also the gallery space it dedicates to Japanese art in its permanent collections.

Suzuki Kiitsu Japanese, 1796–1858 Shō-Kannon 19th century ink, color, and gold on silk

“The Audacious Eye” offers a sweeping survey of the Clark collection, but Marks stresses that what fills the eight galleries represents less than a tenth of what the MIA recently acquired.

MIA patrons will have to wait for other works to emerge in future exhibitions.

Given Marks energy and industry, they wont have to wait long.