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The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection and 20th-Century Japanese Painting and Calligraphy in the Freer Gallery of Art

  • Thursday, October 07, 2021
  • 6:00 PM
  • Carnegie Museum of Art Theater, 4400 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:


F2018.4.15a-g Pine and CranePlease join us for a special presentation of Japanese art as part of the Richard J. Wood Art Curators Series. The series brings attention to major collections of Japanese art in the U.S. and their role in the U.S.-Japan grassroots relationship. 

Dr. Frank Feltens, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, will explore how the Freer Gallery’s Japanese art collection evolved over the hundred years since the museum’s founding and how the most recent additions stay true to the original intentions and aesthetics of Charles Lang Freer. The talk will conclude with a journey through the exhibition Meeting Tessai: Modern Japanese Art from the Cowles Collection that highlights the Cowles gift and showcases how Freer conversed with contemporary Japanese artists like the famous literatus Tomioka Tessai.

The talk will be held in the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater and will be followed by refreshments and a networking reception.  Registration is free but donations are encouraged.

Industrialist Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919) founded the Freer Gallery of Art in 1923, the first art museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The most notable mention from Freer when he pledged his collection to the Smithsonian Institution was the explicit wish that it may never leave the building.  The original pieces of the Freer gallery have not left the exhibit. Generous donations from generations of curators have expanded the number of pieces in the exhibit, significantly continuing the legacy and history of Charles Lang Freer. For example, the recent addition of the Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection is such a milestone. The Cowles Collection adds more than 250 works of mainly early modern and modern paintings and calligraphy to Freer’s collection. Additions such as paintings by early 20th-century Nihonga grandees like Takeuchi Seihō and Murakami Kagaku, alongside postwar artists like Munaka Shikō and Suda Kokuta, allow the Freer collection to tell the story of Japanese art from its beginnings to our own time.

Frank Feltens, PhD | Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

After receiving his PhD in Japanese art history from Columbia University in 2016, Dr. Frank Feltens joined the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, as an Anne van Biema fellow in Japanese art. The following year, Dr. Feltens became the Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art. Feltens specializes in Japanese art during the late medieval and early modern periods and holds additional interests in Japanese photography and the intersections between painting and ceramics. 

Dr. Feltens has published and lectured on a range of topics related to Japanese art. Recent articles examine the painters Ogata Kōrin and Sakai Hōitsu, and the photographer Domon Ken. Prior to coming to the Freer and Sackler, he worked at the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Asian Art in Berlin and the Nezu Museum and the temple Sensōji in Tokyo. At the Freer and Sackler, Feltens has organized a number of exhibitions, including Meeting Tessai: Japanese Art from the Cowles Collection (upcoming) and Hokusai: Mad About Painting (2019-2020), as well as Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography (2018-19), Painting the Classics (2019), and Shinto: The Way of the Kami (2019). Feltens is a longtime practitioner of the Japanese tea ceremony in the Urasenke tradition and carries the honorary tea name Sōchoku.

Thank you to the Carnegie Museum of Art for their partnership and the National Association of Japan-America Societies and the Japan~United States Friendship Commission for their support of this series at Japan-America Societies nationwide.


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