Collecting Asian Art

Cultural Politics and Transregional Networks in Twentieth-Century Central Europe

Edited by Markéta Hánová, Yuka Kadoi, and Simone Wille

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Museum collections of Asian art in Central Europe.

Rather than centering on the well-known collections in Western European and North American museums, Collecting Asian Art turns to museum collections of Asian art in Central Europe which emerged from the late 19th century onwards. Highlighting the dimensions of Central European connectedness, this volume explores how these collections evolved and changed under changing cultural and political conditions from the pre-World War I to the post-World War II periods. With a primary focus on collections of East Asian, South Asian, and West Asian art in Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Warsaw, Kraków, Budapest, and Ljubljana, it outlines the transregional connections and networks that gradually developed.

Collecting Asian Art locates Asian art across the twentieth-century in Central Europe via discourse and ideology, and discusses key collections and the way individual collectors built their networks. It thus explores transregional connections that developed through collecting activities and strategies in the prewar, interwar and postwar eras. Contributors also examine the personal connections between a group of Indologists from postwar Prague and modernist Indian artists from the early 1950s to the 1980s and also discuss the systematic archiving of East Asian art collections in Slovenia. A concluding conversation looks at colonisation and decolonisation from a broader perspective by approaching it through recent art historical discussions on the global dimensions of modernism. By defining the region through its external relationships and its entanglements with regions across Asia rather than as a self-contained unit, the contributions in this volume outline how these transregional connections and networks evolved and changed over time, thus highlighting their singularity in comparison to developments in Western Europe. Based on recent research, Collecting Asian Art reveals neglected sources while reinterpreting well-known ones.

Contributors: Zdenka Klimtová (National Gallery in Prague); Agnieszka Kluczewska-Wójcik (Polish Institute of World Art Studies); Partha Mitter (University of Sussex); Michaela Pejčochová (National Gallery in Prague); Uta Rahman Steinert (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin); Iván Szántó (Eötvös Loránd University); Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik (University of Ljubljana); Johannes Wieninger (MAK – Museum of Applied Arts); Tomáš Winter (Czech Academy of Sciences).

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Note on Transliteration and Translation 7

Collecting Asian Art: Central Europe’s Transregional Connectivity
Simone Wille


The Ideals of the East : Asian Art and the Crisis of Visual Expression across the Globe, ca. 1900
Yuka Kadoi

Picasso’s Meeting with Buddha
Tomáš Winter


Twentieth-Century Cultural Politics and Networks : The Genesis of the Asian Art Collection at the National Gallery in Prague
Markéta Hánová

‘I Have Shown You Japan …’ Feliks Jasieński and Japanese Art Collections in Poland
Agnieszka Kluczewska-Wójcik

Networks of Enthusiasm for Japan
Johannes Wieninger


When East and West met in the Heart of Europe : Vojtěch Chytil and His Contribution to Collecting Asian Art in Central Europe
Michaela Pejčochová

Big Presents Maintain the Friendship : The Gift of the People’s Republic of China to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), GDR, in 1959
Uta Rahman-Steinert

Saved from the Furnace, thrown into the Cold War: Islamic Art in Hungary in the 1950s
Iván Szántó


Lubor Hájek and Indian Modernist Art
Zdenka Klimtová

M. F. Husain’s Work in the Collection of the National Gallery in Prague : Connecting East and West
Simone Wille


Collecting East Asian Objects in Slovenia : A Methodological Approach to Creating the VAZ Database
Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik


Of Centres, Peripheries, Values, and Judgements
Simone Wille in Conversation with Partha Mitter on ‘Decentering Modernism’ and Modernist Routes beyond Western Europe

Biographies of the Authors


Gallery with Colour Plates

Format: Edited volume - free ebook - PDF

32 pp. in colour

ISBN: 9789461665409

Publication: January 30, 2024

Languages: English


Markéta Hánová is the head of the Collection of Asian Art, National Gallery Prague.
Simone Wille is Elise Richter Fellow (V880-G) at the Department of Art History, University of Innsbruck.
Yuka Kadoi is Elise Richter Fellow (V-995) at the Department of Art History, University of Vienna.

This is a diverse but carefully compiled collection of essays by leading specialists in the field. The book should make a valuable contribution to studies of colonial and post-colonial entanglements in Central Europe, which have been growing dynamically in recent years. Joanna Wasilewska, former director of the The Andrzej Wawrzyniak Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw


The content of the work is fresh and resonates with the contemporary focus on global art history and transcultural studies. The transcultural relationship around museum collectibles between Central Europe and Asia during the height of the Cold War and rising nationalism is relatively unexplored and this volume aims to fill in the lacuna. - Parul Dave-Mukherji, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University