California Couple Gifts $25 Million Japanese Art Collection to Minneapolis Institute of Arts

  • June 09, 2013 17:27

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Life-size 13th-century wooden sculpture features a grimacing, multi-limbed Buddhist deity astride a kneeling bull.
Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture

A California cattle breeder who amassed a top-notch collection of Japanese art worth $25 million has gifted it to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Nearly 1,700 objects spanning 1,000 years — paintings, sculpture, ceramics, woodblock prints, bamboo baskets — represent the biggest gift ever to the museum, and will transform it into one of the country’s largest and most comprehensive centers of Japanese art.

MIA director Kaywin Feldman has a friendship with the donors, Libby and Bill Clark, that dates back to the mid-1990s, when she ran Fresno’s art museum. The Clarks live in Hanford, in central Calif., where they also operate almond farms near farms owned by Feldman's husband's family.

Bill Clark, 83, served in the U.S. Navy in Japan, returning to the States to build his family’s dairy farm into an industry leader by founding World Wide Sires. He has been awarded honors by Japan for improving its dairy industry and promoting the study of Japanese art.

Clark began collecting seriously in the 1970s, and then created the nonprofit Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture. The collection has outgrown its home and the Clarks picked Minneapolis for its space, complementary collections and for its already strong holdings of Japanese art.

Selections from the Clark gift will be shown in “The Audacious Eye,” an exhibit of more than 100 pieces, on view from Oct. 6, 2013, to Jan. 12, 2014.



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