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Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
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The Enchantment of the Everyday: East Asian Decorative Arts from the Permanent Collection

July 9, 2019 - September 3, 2021
In Stern Gallery West

The Enchantment of the Everyday: East Asian Decorative Arts from the Permanent Collection

July 9, 2019 - September 3, 2021
In Stern Gallery West

Glimpse into a different world, where the everyday object became something magical in the hands of artisans working in ivory, jade, cloisonné, and other luxurious materials.

Table settings, combs and hairpins, belt toggles, boxes for documents—all are potentially unremarkable, utilitarian, and overlooked artifacts of daily life. This exhibition provides a glimpse into a different world, where the everyday object—enhanced by the creativity and skills of East Asian master artisans—became something magical.

Highlighted here are spectacular examples of East Asian decorative arts from the permanent collection, largely dating to the 19th century, that complement the ceramics, jades, and ivory netsuke on view in other museum galleries. Included are both very recent additions to the collection and works that came to Oberlin College as part of the bequest of Charles Olney in 1904, as well as many acquisitions from the intervening years—all testaments to the Allen’s abiding interest in Asian decorative arts.

The Enchantment of the Everyday presents objects made with luxurious materials: gold lacquerware, delicately carved ivory, colorful enamelware, glass, metalwork, and complex tapestries and embroideries. The works showcase the inspiration, ingenuity, and technical accomplishments of generations of artists specializing in these diverse mediums.

Organized by

Kevin R. E. Greenwood

Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art

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