There’s an interesting juxtaposition in the Wall Street Journal’s story on the opening of a new museum in Saskatoon, the capital of Canada’s Saskatchewan province.
Built from the collection of Ellen Remai and a history with some of the giants of 20th Century art, Saskatoon is looking to draw visitors based upon the strength of the art museum and its history:
In the future, watch for the museum to organize shows that tease out the who-knew role that Saskatoon’s University of Saskatchewan campus played when it invited major abstract-expressionist critic Clement Greenberg to host artist workshops in the nearby Emma Lake area. The retreats were later led by major artists like Barnett Newman and Donald Judd in the 1950s and 1960s. Minimalist Agnes Martin was also born just outside of town, making her paintings of pale lines a “top priority” on the museum’s wishlist, Mr. Burke said.
As part of the article, the Journal adds a list of recent global museum openings with similar goals as destinations. In the case of Jakarta’s MACAN museum, the art anchors a multi-use real estate project which is the brainchild of Haryanto Adikoesoemo:
Twenty-five years ago, Haryanto started spending parts of a fortune made in petroleum trading, chemicals and property development on art by Indonesian and overseas artists. Today, his portfolio reads like a who’s who of the art world. Roughly half the works are by Indonesian artists, from Raden Saleh, a 19th-century Javanese who painted in Western style, to contemporary heavyweights such as Affandi, FX Harsono and Heri Dono. A quarter of his collection is from the West, and he has a particular fondness for American post-war artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Jeff Koons. The rest are mainly from east Asia, with a focus on Korean Dansaekhwa and Japanese Mono-ha artists. He has a number of works by Yayoi Kusama, including one of her “Infinity Mirror Rooms”. Haryanto Adikoesoemo. Picture: Museum Macan The diverse collection of about 800 pieces is reflected in the museum’s full name: the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (the Javanese word for the Indonesian archipelago).
Not to pick on Saskatoon, but comparing the mix of art—without having any basis for judging the breadth or quality—between Saskatoon and Jakarta suggests Asian capitals are constructing a 21st Century culture more authoritatively than Western ones.
Jakarta’s Museum Macan launches with exhibition of who’s who in Eastern and Western art (South China Morning Post)