New Asian Art: Two Pioneers


Holland Cotter, chief art critic of the New York Times, and Vishakha N. Desai, Asia Society President Emerita

Join a conversation between Holland Cotter, a 2009 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the chief art critic of the New York Times, and Vishakha N. Desai, President Emerita of Asia Society, as they reflect on the last two decades of the extraordinary wave of new art from Asia and consider its ongoing directions.

Holland Cotter has been a staff art critic at the New York Times since 1998. Between 1992 and 1997 he was a regular freelance writer for the paper. During the 1980s he was a contributing editor at Art in America and an editorial associate at Art News. In the 1970s, he co-edited New York Arts Journal, a tabloid-format quarterly magazine publishing fiction, poetry, and criticism. Art in New York City has been his regular weekly beat, which he has taken to include all five boroughs and most of the city's art and culture museums. His subjects range from Italian Renaissance painting to street-based communal work by artist collectives. For the Times, he has written widely about "non-Western" art and culture. In the 1990s, he introduced readers to a broad range of Asian contemporary art as the first wave of new art from China art was building and breaking. He helped bring contemporary art from India to the attention of a Western audience.

Born in Connecticut in 1947 and raised in Boston, Cotter received an A.B. from Harvard College, where he studied poetry with Robert Lowell and was an editor of the Harvard Advocate. He later received an M.A. from the City University of New York in American modernism, and an M. Phil in early Indian Buddhist art from Columbia University, where he studied Sanskrit and taught Indian and Islamic art.

Vishakha N. Desai is the President Emerita of Asia Society. As President and CEO of Asia Society from 2004-2012 Dr. Desai set the direction for the Society’s diverse sets of programs ranging from major U.S.-Asia policy initiatives and national educational partnerships for global learning to path-breaking art exhibitions and innovative Asian American performances. Prior to assuming position as President, Dr. Desai held several positions at Asia Society, first as Director of its Museum, and then as Vice President for Arts and Cultural Programs and as Senior Vice President of the Society. Before joining Asia Society in 1990, Dr. Desai was a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the head of Public Programs and Academic Affairs. She has also taught at the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Columbia University and Williams College. Dr. Desai is a frequent speaker at national and international forums on a wide variety of subjects that include U.S.-Asia relationships, and cultural roots of Asian economic development.

In conjunction with the exhibition Bound Unbound: Lin Tianmiao, on view from September 7, 2012 through January 27, 2013.

Read a selection of Holland Cotter's reviews of past ground-breaking contemporary Asia Art shows at Asia Society, including his prescient 1993 article on Vishakha Desai while she was Director of the Asia Society Galleries, now the Asia Society Museum.

"A 'Contemporary Being' at the Asia Society," 9/26/93

"The Brave New Face Of Art From The East," 9/29/1996 (focused on Asia Society's first major contemporary art exhibition, Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tensions)

"Immersed in Buddhism and Its Meditation on Paradoxes," 2/21/2003 (on Montien Boonma: The Temple of the Mind)

"Chinese Art, in One Man's Translation," 9/7/2007 (on Zhang Huan: Altered States)

Visit past Asia Society exhibitions

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Event Details

Mon 24 Sep 2012
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
725 Park Avenue (at East 70th Street), New York, NY
Buy Tickets
$15 members; $17 students with ID and seniors; $20 nonmembers
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