Mary Griggs Burke is not a name many have heard of but when she passed away in 2012, there were many mournful faces, specifically from those in the art world. Recognised as having the largest private collection of Japanese art outside of Japan, Griggs Burke had quite an impact on the emergence of Asian art in the United States.
“The beauty of the Japanese aesthetic first struck me when I saw my mother’s kimono, a padded winter garment of black silk displaying at the knee a bold design of twisted pine branches covered with snow.[…] It was then, I believe, that a future collector of Japanese art was born.”
Due to this spectacular eye for detail she amassed beautiful objects throughout her life and continuously inspired and encouraged artists and creators. Through her support and promotion of Japanese and Asian art she was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese Government in 1987. Mary Griggs Burke demonstrated her sheer joy and passion for the subject in a myriad of ways and this collection is a perfect representation of her love of Japanese art.
After her death in 2012, Mary Griggs Burke’s collection was divided between the Metropolitan Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and now after the details of her bequeaths have been made public, they are on display for the first time since 1975. Some newer additions have never been seen before! For a chance to see some of these pieces an exhibition entitled “Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection” will be at the Metropolitan Museum in New York from the 20th of October 2015.
If your interests lie in Asian art and you would like to uncover a more revealing side to it, why not get your hands on Forbidden Asia, a book by Parkstone International that delves into erotic art of the east, or read about Japan’s notorious Hokusai. There is also The Art of Champa, treasures of ancient Vietnamese art, or Impressions of Ukiyo-E, an exploration of traditional figurative Japanese art.