Rewind: Selections from the Harold and Ruth Newman New Media Collection now on view at Asia Society Museum

Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (b. 1968, Japan). Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam

NEW YORK, June 10, 2016 — Asia Society presents an exhibition of new media works commemorating the institution’s 60th anniversary and honoring the vision and generosity of the Newman family. Rewind: Selections from the Harold and Ruth Newman New Media Collection, Asia Society Museum comprises a selection of new media works from the Museum’s collection that illustrates the breadth and depth of the Newman’s patronage, and their support of the Museum’s efforts to remain at the forefront of collecting Asian contemporary art. Artists included in the exhibition are: Makoto Aida, Patty Chang, Cao Fei, Akino KondohDinh Q. Lê, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Nam June Paik, Hiraki Sawa, Koki Tanaka, and the collective Tromarama. The exhibition is on view June 9 through August 7, 2016.

In 2007, Asia Society Museum inaugurated its contemporary art collecting program with a significant gift from the Newman family, which provided the means for the Museum to develop a solid foundation for its contemporary collection. The Harold and Ruth Newman New Media Collection comprises thirty-four objects by twenty-three artists from eight countries. These include seminal works by Cao Fei, Dinh Q. Lê, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Koki Tanaka, and Yang Fudong, among many others.

The Newman gifts provided the Museum an opportunity to collect new media artworks at the highest level to continue the precedent of connoisseurship set by the gift of traditional Asian art that John D. Rockefeller 3rd made to the Museum in 1979. The collection of contemporary Asian new media art aims to broaden understanding of Asia’s artistic production through the acquisition of works that demonstrate advances in new technologies, many of which were developed in Asia. To date, the collection of contemporary works includes ninety-one objects by fifty-seven artists from fourteen countries across Asia and the diaspora. It is one of the largest institutional collections of contemporary Asian new media art in the world. 

“Our passion for collecting Asian art began in the 1960s when Hal began traveling to Hong Kong for business and we started acquiring Tang Dynasty tomb figures,” the Newmans write in the statement they provided for the exhibition. “Our focus on contemporary art began after we were introduced to Ah Xian’s work through the 2002 Asia Society exhibition ‘China Refigured: The Art of Ah Xian.’ As supporters of the institution since the 1980s, we were well aware of the Museum’s leading role as a champion of contemporary arts and culture from Asia and the diaspora, but we noticed a lack of support to sponsor these initiatives. Our decision to champion a focus on new media works for the contemporary collection as founding patrons was based on a keen recognition of Asia Society’s trailblazing efforts on this front.”

About Asia Society Museum
Asia Society Museum presents a wide range of traditional, modern, and contemporary exhibitions of Asian and Asian American art, taking new approaches to familiar masterpieces and introducing under-recognized arts and artists. The Asia Society Museum Collection comprises a traditional art collection, composed of the initial bequests of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, and a contemporary art collection focused on new media.

Asia Society Museum is located at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and Friday from 11:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. Closed on Mondays and major holidays. General admission is $12, seniors $10, students $7; free for members and persons under 16. Free admission Friday evenings, 6:00 P.M.–9:00 P.M. The Museum is closed Fridays after 6:00 P.M. in July and August.

A pdf of the complete press release is available for download at right.