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First large-scale contemporary art exhibition opens at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
Breathing Flower, 2011, by Choi Jeong Hwa (Korea). Kunsthalle Gwang-ju. Fabric, LEDs, motor. © Choi Jeong Hwa. Courtesy of the artist.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The Asian Art Museum, long known for its superb collection of historic Asian art treasures, celebrates the arrival of its first large-scale contemporary art exhibition. Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past—which opened Friday, May 18—enlivening San Francisco with festivities including a “breathing” public art installation in Civic Center Plaza. A full schedule of opening week activities is provided here.

Phantoms of Asia—arriving at a time of unprecedented global interest in Asian art—opened preview week with Breathing Flower, a 24-foot illuminated kinetic sculpture of a red lotus. One of the exhibition’s signature pieces, the artwork will blossom across from the museum in Civic Center Plaza. An ancient symbol of spiritual awakening and renewal, the lotus reflects the museum’s vision of sparking connections across cultures and through time by offering new perspectives on Asian art.

This vision comes to life in Phantoms, which explores the spiritual and supernatural roots of Asian art and culture through a compelling interplay of more than 60 contemporary artworks in dialogue with 80 historical objects from the museum’s renowned collection. The exhibition encourages visitors to view traditional objects not simply as relics of the past, but as vibrant and insightful connections to the present.Spread over 40,000 square feet throughout—and even outside—the museum, the exhibition invites visitors to pause and reflect on their existence in the universe.

This fresh perspective and engagement with Asian art is at the heart of the exhibition and is underscored throughout the week’s events, many produced in partnership with other organizations, such as the San Francisco Arts Commission, Asian Contemporary Arts Consortium, artMRKT,* ARTPad, Asian Heritage Street Festival, and Target.

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