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Stanley K. Abe, Associate Professor of Art History at Duke University, has been chosen from a group of 27 international nominees to receive the 2003 Shimada Prize for distinguished scholarship in the history of East Asian art. The prize of $10,000 is awarded biennially by the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies in Kyoto, Japan.
The presentation ceremony will be on Tuesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art in the Meyer Auditorium. Following the ceremony, Dr. Abe will give an inaugural lecture for the new Sackler exhibition Return of The Buddha entitled, “The Qingzhou Discoveries: Contexts and Questions.” Abe is an expert in the field of early Chinese Buddhist sculpture and received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.
This year’s prize is awarded for Abe’s pioneering study “Ordinary Images,” published by University of Chicago Press (2002) which examines the little known world of Chinese Buddhist sculpture created for patrons of modest economic and social standing. While most scholarship to date focuses on sculptures created and tied to wealthier patrons, in contrast, Abe presents four case studies concentrating on more modest provincial examples of Buddhist imagery. His analysis suggests a critical re-reading of mainstream views relating to Buddhist stylistic development. In addition, Abe confronts current scholarly views linking wealth and power with sculpture content and concludes that there is little correlation between a patron’s social class and the style and symbolism found in Chinese Buddhist works.
“Abe carries the field of Chinese Buddhist art studies to a new level of richness. He confounds our outdated and untested assumptions about early Chinese Buddhist art in China, and his treatment of the phenomenon of “sinicization” will be essential reading for all scholars of medieval China,” says Robert E. Harrist, Jr., the Jane and Leopold Swergold Professor of Chinese Art History at Columbia University.
The Shimada Prize is named for Professor Shujiro Shimada (1907–1994), eminent scholar of Chinese and Japanese art who served at Kyoto University and Princeton University. The prize was created in 1992 to honor a publication in the area of East Asian art judged to be the most distinguished contribution within a two-year period. The winner is chosen by an international committee. This year marks the sixth presentation of the award. The Metropolitan Center in Kyoto provides research grants under the auspices of the Harry G.C. Packard Collections Charitable Trust.
The Freer and Sackler galleries together form the national museum of Asian art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day. Admission is free. The galleries are located at Jefferson Drive and 12th Street S.W. (Freer) and 1050 Independence Avenue S.W. (Sackler) and are near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines.
For more information, the public may visit the galleries’ Web site at asia.si.edu.