Published: April 3, 2007
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will honor Profession Emeritus James Cahill, one of the Twentieth Century’s most knowledgeable connoisseurs of Chinese painting, with an exhibition and two-day symposium focusing on his lasting contribution to the study of Asian art.
The exhibition, “Honoring a Tradition, Honoring a Teacher: A Tribute to James Cahill,” is on view through May 27 and features a selection of work from BAM/PFA’s collection of Chinese painting, widely regarded as one of the finest in the United States. The symposium, “Returning to the Shore: A Scholarly in Honor of James Cahill’s 81st Year,” will take place at the museum on Friday, April 27, and continue at Wheeler Hall, 315 Maude Fife Room, on Saturday, April 28.
Cahill is professor emeritus in the history of art at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1965 until his retirement in 1995. He began collecting Chinese paintings in the 1950s, while completing his dissertation on painting of the Yuan dynasty (1260‱368). For more than four decades Cahill’s writings and work, including seminal exhibitions he organized for BAM/PFA, have attracted the attention of a wide range of Asian art enthusiasts, from Western scholars to dedicated collectors around the world.
While at UC Berkeley, Cahill encouraged BAM/PFA and its supporters to acquire works for the museum that he felt would add significant depth to its collection of Chinese paintings. In 2000, BAM/PFA received a major grant from an anonymous Bay Area foundation for the acquisition of 50 paintings from the Ching Yuan Chai collection that were considered important for research, teaching and exhibition. The acquisition of these paintings helped position BAM/PFA as a definitive resource for historical Chinese painting on the West Coast.
“Honoring a Tradition, Honoring a Teacher: A Tribute to James Cahill” features many of the paintings Cahill identified as important additions to the BAM/PFA collection. An example is the large hanging scroll, “Scholar Instructing Girl Pupils in the Arts” by Chen Hongshou (1598‱652), privately purchased for the museum from an important collection of paintings sold by the Asian Art Museum Foundation in the 1960s.
Other works by the same artist hang nearby in the exhibition, demonstrating the collection’s excellent examples from this late Ming painter’s repertoire.
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition, “Returning to the Shore: A Scholarly Symposium in Honor of James Cahill’s 81st Year” will feature papers presented by 14 scholars from as far afield as Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, all of whom studied under professor Cahill. The symposium will begin in the Museum Theater at 5:30 pm on April 27 with a keynote presentation by Cahill, who will also provide closing remarks at the end of the second day’s presentations on campus in Wheeler Hall.
The conference is open to the public, with the cost of museum admission. For information, 510-642-1295 or www.bampfa.berkeley.edu .
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