Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899-1983), Lotus, 1963.Ink and color on paper. Denver Art Museum: Gift of the Children of Mr. & Mrs. Wong Pao Hsie, 1992.237

Arts of Asia

Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899-1983), Lotus, 1963.Ink and color on paper. Denver Art Museum: Gift of the Children of Mr. & Mrs. Wong Pao Hsie, 1992.237

Department Staff

Hyonjeong Kim Han, Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art
Hyonjeong (HJ) Kim Han oversees the museum’s Asian art collection and its programs, continuing the museum’s commitment to bringing world-class special exhibitions to Denver. Before joining the museum, Han served as the Department Head and Associate Curator of Korean Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. From 2006 to 2010, she served as the Associate Curator and Acting Department Head of Chinese and Korean Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Han has curated seven special exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum, including Likeness and Legacy in Korean Portraiture (2021), Couture Korea (2017–18), Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea (2016), and In Grand Style: Celebration in Korean Art during the Joseon Dynasty (2013). At LACMA, she conceived and orchestrated the reinstallation of the Korean art galleries, the largest in the States at the time. A specialist of East Asian art history, Han holds a bachelor's and master's in Asian art history from Seoul National University, South Korea, as well as a second master's and completed her PhD coursework at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Einor Keinan Cervone, Associate Curator of Asian Art
Einor K Cervone joined the Denver Art Museum from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where she served as the Mozhai Foundation Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Chinese and Korean Art. Prior to that, she was an Associate at the American Museum of Natural History working with the Berthold Laufer collection, as well as a Visiting Scholar at Academia Sinica in Taipei. She received her bachelor's from Tel-Aviv University and her PhD in Premodern Chinese art and literature from Harvard University.

Cervone fosters a broad range of research interests with particular focus on Ming and Qing painting, Asian lacquer, Chinese ceramics, and contemporary ink art. She has taken part in various exhibitions, including Where the Truth Lies: The Art of Qiu Ying and Ink Dreams: Selections from the Fondation INK Collection. Her exhibition on Asian lacquer is slated to open next year at LACMA.

Douglas Wagner, Curatorial Associate of Asian Art
Douglas Wagner is the Curatorial Associate in the Asian Art department at the Denver Art Museum. Working in the Asian Art department since 2006, he has contributed to the acquisition, exhibition, and interpretation of artwork from across Asia, and led efforts to reinstall the museum’s permanent Asian Art galleries. He has written articles and catalog entries, offered lectures at numerous Universities and cultural institutions, and participated in the Japan Foundation's curatorial exchange program in 2011. He holds a bachelor's in history and anthropology from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a master’s degree in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University.

Karuna Srikureja, Associate Interpretive Specialist
Karuna Srikureja is the Associate Interpretive Specialist for Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Before joining the Denver Art Museum in 2019, Karuna served as the Kress Interpretive Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where she worked on interpretation for Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art and installed interactives in permanent collection galleries. Karuna received her bachelor's from Emory University and her master's from University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

At the DAM, Karuna is interpretation lead for the installation of the Asian, African, and Oceanic art collections. She also collaborates with other members of the Learning and Engagement team to develop teaching materials, community feedback panels, and programs for the Asian Art collection. Karuna is a passionate advocate for equitable and culturally responsive museum practice and is an inaugural member of the DAM’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, Staff Council, and Equity Alliance.

Publication History

Fantastic Brush: Twentieth-Century Chinese Ink Art from the Robert and Lisa Kessler Collection. Denver Art Museum, 2021. ISBN: 978-1-945483-05-9

Linking Asia: Art, Trade and Devotion. Denver Art Museum, 2017. ISBN 978-0914738-53-4.

From the Fire: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Robert and Lisa Kessler Collection. Denver Art Museum, 2016. ISBN 978-0914738-42-3.

Collection Highlights

Browse objects from the Arts of Asia department in our online collection.

figure

Bridled and Saddled Horse
600s–700s, Tang dynasty (618–907)
China
Earthenware
Bequest of Bernadette Berger
2017.43

With its orange-glazed body, the accenting detail of a bright green bridle, and its cream-colored patches, mane, and tail, this robust horse displays the three-color (sancai) glaze combination associated with classic Tang dynasty sculpture. With increasing connections between China and Persia and West Asia in the early Tang dynasty, a sizable number of tall, powerful horses were brought to China. They were greatly admired by the Tang court and the aristocracy, and ceramic horses from this period were modeled on these imported horses.

Horse, 600s–700s. Tang dynasty (618–907), China.
Glazed earthenware; 20 x 7 1/2 x 21 in. 
Denver Art Museum: Bequest of Bernadette Berger, 2017.43

Moon Flask

Moon Flask, 1736–1795. Qianlong period, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), China.
Porcelain with underglaze blue; 19 1/2 x 15 x 8 in.
Denver Art Museum: Gift of May Wilfley in memory of her parents, A. R. Wilfley and Addie M. Wilfley, 1974.28

figure

Buddha 
800s-900s, Pala dynasty
India
Stone
Gift of Irene Littledale Downs
1972.227

This carving here of the Buddha shares characteristics of Pala period sculpture: the double lotus base on which the figure sits, the crossbar throne-back, and the upside-down horsheshoe-shaped halo. The Buddha's hair is in snail-shell curls and the protuberance (ushnisha) on his head shows his enlightened state. The two deer on the base refer to the deer park where the Buddha taught his first sermon, and the wheel symbolizes this first teaching, when the Buddha set the wheel of law in motion. 

figure. 9th century-10th century. Gift of Irene Littledale Downs. 1972.227.

Fugai Ekun

Daruma

Fūgai Ekun
Japanese, 1568–1654
Bodhidharma
1600s, Edo period (1615–1868)
Ink and color on silk
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Bunker
1982.135

Bodhidharma (known in Japan as Daruma) is the South Indian monk who introduced the Zen school of Buddhism (Chinese: Chan) to China in the sixth century. From the late sixteenth century, exaggerated caricatures of Daruma became a frequent subject among Japanese painters. Daruma’s piercing gaze in this painting is a reference to an account that Daruma sat meditating for nine years, staring at a cave wall with wide-open eyes. The artist of this work, Fūgai Ekun, was nicknamed Ana (Cave) Fūgai because he spent many years living in mountainside caves, perhaps in emulation of Daruma.

Fugai Ekun (Japanese). Daruma. 1600s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Bunker. 1982.135.

Lord of the Faith-Guarding Deities (Mahakala)

Lord of the Faith-Guarding Deities (Mahakala)
Tibet
1700s
Brass
Walter C. Mead Collection
1933.14

Mahakala, the Great Black One, is the most popular of the protectors of Tibetan Buddhism, and is often found at the inner entrance of a temple or at his own special shrine.  Here he appears in his six-armed manifestation, clothed in an elephant hide and a tiger pelt, trampling the prone elephant-headed figure of Ganesha.  His fierce countenance is reinforced by his flame-like hair, a crown and a garland of skulls, and the vajra chopper and skull cup that he holds in his middle hands.  Traces remain of a red pigment that once highlighted these features.

Lord of the Faith-Guarding Deities (Mahakala). 18th century. brass. Walter C. Mead Collection. 1933.14.

figure

Garuda (Vehicle of Vishnu)
Indonesia, Bali
1800s
Polychromed wood
Museum purchase for the Frederic H. Douglas Collection
1956.8

For centuries, trade and the spread of Indian religious practices allowed Hinduism to make a lasting impression upon the people of Bali. Although later Arab traders brought Islam to Indonesia, to this day the island of Bali remains primarily Hindu. Garuda, the half-man/half-eagle vehicle associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, is an especially popular figure who is believed to ward off snakes. Ornately carved and decorated images of this type were often placed in the rafters of open-air pavilions and palaces. This well-preserved sculpture provides an idea of what these figures may have looked like before their color disappeared due to neglect and the passing of time

Image of Garuda, about 1875. Bali, Indonesia. Polychromed wood; 29 x 18 x 17 1/4 in.
Denver Art Museum: Purchase for the Frederic H. Douglas Collection, 1956.8

Portrait of Nadir Shah

Nadir Shah Seated on Throne
About 1760, Mughal dynasty (1526–1857)
Delhi or perhaps Jaipur, India
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Gift of the Edna Hadley Collection
1968.9

The Persian ruler Nadir Shah (reigned 1736–1747) led a successful invasion of India in 1739, defeating the Mughal ruler Muhammad Shah at the battle of Karnal. In this painting, Nadir Shah wears a Persian coat and conical headdress, both of which attest to his foreign origin. This portrait, along with many others from the same period, may have been commissioned by Nadir Shah to memorialize his victory.

Portrait of Nadir Shah. c. 1760. Gift of the Edna Hadley Collection. 1968.9.
Two thickly brushed Japanese characters in black ink occupy the center of a horizontal piece of paper. One small red stamp in the top left corner, and two others on the right-center edge of the paper.

Murase Myōdō 村瀬明道 (1924–2013), Breaking Waves in the Pines (shōtō), late 1900s. Ink on paper, 12⅝ × 23⅞ in. (32.1 × 60.6 cm). Gift of Drs. John Fong and Colin Johnstone, 2018.155.

The Fong-Johnstone Collection and Study Collection

John Fong and Colin Johnstone assembled a collection of scroll paintings, calligraphy, and ceramics by Japanese women artists from the 1600s to the 1900s. Their generous gift of this collection to the Denver Art Museum is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive group of works of this type outside of Japan. The accompanying Study Collection will provide opportunities for ongoing connoisseurship and additional research.

Become a Museum Friend

Interested in learning more about this collection or a specific type of art? Consider becoming a Museum Friend. Museum Friends enjoy access to free lectures, a deeper dive into a department of interest, and invitations to social gatherings related to that department.

Museum Friends is an add-on program to Membership. Learn more about both membership options and join today.