Southeast Asian ceramic art

The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, in Washington D.C., is presenting Taking Shape: Ceramics in Southeast Asia, an exhibition of approximately 200 ceramic vessels from Southeast Asia, beginning April 1. The clay pots and jars form the most extensive record of human activity from the prehistoric period to the present from this part of the world.

The ceramic items, which were donated to the Sackler Gallery by collectors Osbourne and Victor Hauge, are from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Two types of ceramics will be on display; soft porous earthenware used to cool drinking water and cook rice and curries, and high-fired stoneware used to transport grains and for brewing rice-beer.

“This donation has presented us with a collection of Southeast Asia ceramics comparable in size and scope to our collections of Japanese and Chinese ceramics,” said Louise A. Cort, curator of ceramics at both galleries. “The Hauges collected types of pottery that few other collectors paid attention to, including cooking pots from the central highlands of Vietnam and storage jars from Laos and Thailand.”

The Taking Shape exhibition will coincide with the Mekong River: Connecting Cultures festival program, which will feature artisan potters from Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Yunnan showcasing their skills.

The Freer Gallery, established 1923, was founded by Charles Lang Freer, a railroad-car manufacturer from Detroit. Freer donated his collections and funded the building of the Italian-Renaissance-style gallery, constructed in granite and marble and designed by American architect Charles Platt. The Sackler Gallery opened in 1987 to house a gift of some 1,000 works of Asian art from Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, a research physician and medical publisher from New York City.