Major Gift of Japanese Art to Minneapolis Institute


Longtime Japanophiles Willard and Elizabeth Clark, founders of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in central California, are donating 1,700 artworks to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA). The $25-million bequest includes the entirety of the Clark Center’s holdings, as well as the Clarks’ personal collection. (The latter part is arranged as a combined gift/purchase.)

Also making the journey from Hanford, Calif., to Minneapolis is Andreas Marks, current director and chief curator at the Clark Center. The German art historian and expert on Japanese prints will become head of the department of Japanese and Korean art at the MIA. Marks takes over these duties from Matthew Welch, chief curator and deputy director, who has been overseeing the department.

Willard “Bill” Clark, who spent time in Japan as a U.S. Navy radar control officer in the ’50s, has been collecting Japanese art for four decades. The Clarks’ collection includes paintings, sculptures, woodblock prints, ceramics, bamboo baskets and textiles. In 1972, Clark founded World Wide Sires, Inc., a cattle genetics marketing organization. In 1995, six years before he sold the company to focus on collecting, Clark and his wife built a nonprofit museum, library and Japanese garden in a walnut grove on their ranch.

“With this collection, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will become one of the principal centers for the study, display, and research of Japanese art in this country,” said MIA director and president Kaywin Feldman in a press release, which indicated that Clark chose the MIA because the museum agreed to keep the collection together.

Marks’s first show at the MIA, opening in October, will be “The Audacious Eye: Japanese Art from the Clark Collections” (through Jan. 12, 2014). Marks will also curate two exhibitions a year that will travel to the Clark Center in Hanford, which will remain open to the public.

PHOTO: Zibasha Zeshin, Four Elegant Pastimes, second half of 19th century, six-panel screen pair, ink and color on gold leaf, each 60 by 140 inches