The Japan Foundation, New York recently announced that Dr. Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, is to be awarded the Japan Foundation Award 2017 in recognition of her long-standing contribution to the exploration and appreciation of Japanese art in the United States and beyond.
The presentation ceremony will take place on October 16 at Hotel Okura Tokyo. A commemorative lecture by Dr. Munroe will be held on October 19 at Tokyo University of the Arts, the only national arts academy in Japan that is celebrating the 130th anniversary of its founding this year.
“Alexandra Munroe is an art historian and curator who has engaged in empirical research and advanced the study of Japanese art from the postwar to the contemporary period, and has planned and organized several museum exhibitions,” the selection committee said in a statement. “Dr. Munroe has contributed to the promotion of international mutual understanding through her many years of museum experience organizing groundbreaking exhibitions. We award her the Japan Foundation Award in recognition of her work and look forward to her future endeavors.”
Dr. Munroe’s past endeavors have earned her a reputation as an internationally known researcher and author specializing in Asian art and one of the most important curators of her generation. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language and Culture from Sophia University in Tokyo and a doctorate from New York University for her thesis on art and politics of postwar Japan. She has curated or co-organized various exhibitions since 1989, highlighting postwar and contemporary Japanese art and artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Daido Moriyama, Takashi Murakami’s 2005 exhibition at Japan Society, and the Gutai movement. She has directly helped to deepen a global understanding and appreciation of Japanese art through these exhibitions as well as her scholarly catalogues. One example of this is Dr. Munroe’s work as guest curator at the Yokohama Museum of Art and the exhibition Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky in 1994, which introduced Japanese groups such as Gutai, Neo-Dada, and Mono-ha to both international audiences and a new generation of Japanese artists.
Her exhibition The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, which was on view at the Guggenheim in 2009, was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities inaugural Chairman’s Special Award. The exhibition explored the impact of art, literary texts, and philosophical concepts of Japan and Asia on the development of American artistic practices from the late 19th century through the 1980s.
Established in 1972 under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Japan Foundation is Japan’s only public institution dedicated to the promotion of arts and cultural exchange through Japanese-language education, Japanese studies, and intellectual exchange. Dr. Munroe will be the first art curator to receive the Japan Foundation Award, which the Japan Foundation has presented to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contribution toward international cultural exchange between Japan and other nations since 1973. To date 117 individuals and 68 organizations have received the award, which includes an award certificate, a monetary prize in the sum of 3 million Japanese yen (approximately $26,604), and an audience with His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince of Japan.
Dr. Munroe plans to donate her award to PoNJA-GenKon (Post-1945 Japanese Art Discussion Group/Gendai Bijutsu Kondankai) to create an online library of academic research on Japanese contemporary art.