The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology of the University of Oxford has acquired a monumental sculpture by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming (b. 1938). Taichi Arch has been installed on the Museum’s main forecourt, to the left of the entrance, and opposite Henry Moore’s Three Piece Reclining Figure (1963) which is on temporary loan from the Henry Moore Foundation.
The sculpture by Ju Ming has been given to the Museum by the Juming Culture and Education Foundation in memory of Professor Michael Sullivan who died in September. Professor Sullivan was a world authority on 20th-century and contemporary Chinese art, who began collecting Chinese painting in the 1940s with his wife, Khoan. The collection has become one of the most important groups of modern Chinese art in the West, and many of the works have been displayed over the years at the Ashmolean in the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery which opened in 2000.
Ju Ming, born in Taiwan in 1938, is one of the most distinguished of living Asian sculptors. His early works were considered representative of the ‘Nativist art’ of Taiwan, while in the late 1970s he began to create the more international series, the Taichi (‘shadow-boxing’) figures. Of Ju Ming’s work, Prof Sullivan commented: “It is rooted in the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ dualism in Chinese culture, while the forms his works take owe much, even if indirectly, to modern Western art. The achievement of Ju Ming is that he has found, in his own cultural heritage, a natural source for the creation of a formal language that is both contemporary and Chinese.”
Ju Ming has been exhibited around the world, across Asia, Europe, and the United States. His last major solo exhibition in the UK was held at the South Bank Centre, London, in 1991. In 2005, Michael Sullivan donated a bronze Taichi figure to his college, St Catherine’s, University of Oxford.
Dr Shelagh Vainker, Curator of Chinese Art, Ashmolean Museum, said: “The Ashmolean is profoundly grateful to the Juming Education and Culture Foundation for enabling the Museum to commemorate Michael Sullivan with this important sculpture. Michael was a pioneer in the study of Chinese art and his contributions to the field continued until the end of his life. We hope that Ju Ming’s sculpture, displayed on the Museum forecourt, will encourage more people to enjoy and study contemporary Chinese art – the subject to which Michael dedicated his life.”
Professor Michael Sullivan 1916–2013
Michael Sullivan was a world authority on 20th-century and contemporary Chinese art, who began collecting Chinese painting in the 1940s with his wife, Khoan. The collection has become one of the most important groups of modern Chinese art in the West, and many of the works have been displayed over the years at the Ashmolean in the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery which opened in 2000. An exhibition of recent acquisitions was held in the gallery over the summer of 2012, and can be viewed online: Click Here
In March, Professor Sullivan was awarded the American Friends of Shanghai Museum’s Award for Excellence in Chinese Art. The award, which is bestowed once every two years, honoured Professor Sullivan’s lifetime contribution to the study and preservation of Chinese art. With characteristic generosity, Professor Sullivan used the prize grant to purchase an extraordinary object for the Ashmolean’s permanent collections – an early 20th-century ‘Scholar’s Rock’ which is now on display in the Sullivan Gallery.