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SAN FRANCISCO, November 14, 2012. Batik—the technique of patterning cloth though the application of wax—is practiced in many parts of the world, but in Indonesia, especially on the island of Java, this art form has reached the highest level of complexity. There, artists—primarily women—create batik working with simple materials, either at home or in workshops. The multiple applications of wax, often drawn by hand, followed by subsequent dyeing, could mean an intricate textile might take up to a year to complete. From November 2, 2012–May 5, 2013, the Asian Art Museum presents Batik: Spectacular Textiles of Java, an exhibition of sixteen superb examples of these textiles, some hundreds of years old, including ceremonial cloths, traditional garments, head cloths and scarves in a stunning array of colors and styles.
Batik artists in Java have developed remarkably diverse styles of decorating cloth. These styles are often associated with specific cities or villages, and draw inspiration from a wide range of cultures and religions. Java has long been a crossroads for many cultures — from the early Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of Central Java to the later Muslim sultanates across the island, from communities of Chinese emigrants to the pockets of colonial European residents. The textiles on view in Batik are the result of the meeting of these communities and the mingling of ideas, motifs and symbols.
Batik includes such objects as a cloth from the north coast of Java scattered with dozens of animals—a carp with whiskers and bulging eyes, a prancing deer, a delicate crayfish—all depicted in elaborate detail against a ground of seaweed, leaves and flowers. A sarong with an art nouveau-inspired arrangement of peacocks shows each plume of the birds’ tails in intricate detail. Auspicious animals, Arabic calligraphy, imperial symbols and mythical birds are some of the other images vividly portrayed on batiks in this exhibition.
All of the examples on view in Batik: Spectacular Textiles of Java are borrowed from the collection of Joan and M. Glenn Vinson, Jr.
The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renown collection of more than 18,000 Asian Art treasures spanning 6000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life, while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.
Information: 415.581.3500 or www.asianart.org
Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. From January through October, hours are extended on Thursdays until 9:00 pm. Closed Mondays, as well as New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
General Admission: FREE for museum members, $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+), college students with ID, and youths (13–17). FREE for children under 12 and SFUSD students with ID. Admission on Thursdays after 5:00 pm is $5 for all visitors (except those under 12, SFUSD students, and members, who are always admitted FREE). Admission is FREE to all on Target First Free Sundays (the first Sunday of every month). A surcharge may apply for admission into special exhibitions.
General Admission: FREE for museum members, $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+), $7 for college students with ID, $7 for youths 13–17, and FREE for children under 12 and SFUSD students with ID. Admission on Thursdays after 5:00 pm is $5 for all visitors (except those under 12, SFUSD students, and members, who are always admitted FREE). Admission is FREE to all on Target First Free Sundays (the first Sunday of every month). A surcharge may apply for admission into special exhibitions.
Access: The Asian Art Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information regarding access: 415.581.3598; TDD: 415.861.2035.