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Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea

Apr 29 —
Oct 23, 2016

On a background of sleek lacquer, mother-of-pearl illuminates intricate flowers, swirling leaves and birds poised to fly. This ornate art has been practiced in Korea for over a thousand years, but it hasn’t been extensively studied or displayed in the United States. Now, learn about luminous Korean mother-of-pearl lacquerware with the first U.S. exhibition devoted to this time-honored tradition. 
Through 30 radiant objects, many on view for the first time, you’ll discover the painstaking techniques used to create a flawless, gleaming surface filled with almost microscopic details. You’ll also get a close-up look at abalone shell, the stunning natural phenomenon that gives these works their iridescent luster. And an in-gallery video will share the conservation procedures that preserve the art’s beauty and integrity.  

The works featured in this exhibition are mostly drawn from the museum’s collection, in addition to objects on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  A related display of five contemporary artworks of various mediums can be found in the adjacent Korean art galleries. Influenced by traditional Korean mother-of-pearl lacquerware, these works demonstrate the vitality of this vibrant art form today.

At the Asian Art Museum, we’re longtime leaders in Korean art. The first Western art museum to establish a Korean department with a dedicated full-time curator, we have a distinguished history of presenting groundbreaking Korean exhibitions. With Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea, we continue our commitment to advancing international scholarship in this important field.
 

Be sure to check out our exhibitions of Chinese and Japanese lacquerware, on view now.

Read even more in our 2008 publication The Conservation of Asian Lacquer: Case Studies at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Download...