The Great Mandarin
Paul Wegener, pioneer of cinematic art, and his Asian art collection

06.12.2015 to 20.03.2016
Museum für Asiatische Kunst

December 6th 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the re-founding of the Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst, re-establishing the association of friends of the Ostasiatische Kunstsammlung which was originally founded in 1926. The special exhibition to mark this occasion commemorates Paul Wegener (1874–1948), a founder member of the Gesellschaft who enjoyed a brilliant career as an actor of stage and screen and who also made a name for himself as a collector, principally of Chinese sculpture. Wegener’s enthusiasm for Chinese art began in his student days in Freiburg and he went on to become a passionate collector with a deep love of Chinese culture (“Old China – the realm of mind and spirit in which my being most delights”).

Important works of East Asian sculpture were acquired from the actor’s estate by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and these, supplemented by loans, form the heart of the exhibition. The collection’s impressive original setting, in Wegener’s house in south-east Berlin, is documented by numerous historical photographs. Wegener’s work as a cinematographer, which betrayed a fondness for the “exotic”, also comes under the spotlight, and excerpts of his films can be seen.

The exhibition is being staged in a gallery of the museum which is devoted to East Asian religious art. As a result, the works from the Wegener collection are ensconced within a larger display of East Asian sculptures which originate from the collections of other illustrious members of the Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst, and the exhibition is thus a tribute to them all.

An exhibition by the Staatliche Museen’s Museum für Asiatische Kunst, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst.

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