(New York, June 14, 2000) — James C. Y. Watt, the longtime Brooke Russell Astor Senior Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and one of the world's most respected authorities on Chinese art, has been named Brooke Russell Astor Chairman of the Museum's Department of Asian Art, effective July 1.
Mr. Watt succeeds Wen C. Fong, who retires from the Museum effective June 30 and assumes the new title of C. Douglas Dillon Curator Emeritus.
Commented Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan, in announcing the appointment: "We are fortunate indeed that so distinguished and accomplished a scholar and curator as James Watt has accepted the challenge of leading the large, and growing, Asian museum within The Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a legendary figure in his field, and for 15 years a major presence at the Met, he is uniquely qualified to lead this department into the new millennium."
Commented Mr. Watt: "I am proud to succeed Professor Wen Fong in this position, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Department of Asian Art at this critical juncture of its development."
James C. Y. Watt (Qu Zhi-ren) became Brooke Russell Astor Senior Curator in the Metropolitan's Department of Asian Art in 1988 (and since 1997 has served as Brooke Russell Astor Senior Research Curator). For the previous three years he was Senior Consultant for Chinese Antiquities and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Watt served from 1982 through 1985 as curator of the department of Asiatic art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Previously, he was chairman of the board, studies in fine arts, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1977-80), curator of the art gallery, Institute of Chinese Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong (1971-1981), and assistant curator at the Hong Kong City Museum and Art Gallery (1964-1971).
He has also held visiting appointments, in both research and teaching capacities, at Princeton University, Cambridge University, and Michigan State University, and for a
number of years served as an adjunct professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He also conducted extensive research on trade ceramics in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia under a Harvard-Yenching research grant in 1977 and 1978.
Mr. Watt planned and installed the Charlotte C. Weber Galleries for the Arts of Ancient China, which opened in 1987, and the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries of Chinese Decorative Arts, which opened in 1997. He has also organized number of exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, notable among which have been: East Asian Lacquer (1991), Splendors of Imperial China (with Wen C. Fong, 1996), and When Silk Was Gold (1998).
Mr. Watt is the author of 15 catalogues, among the most recent of which are: The Sumptuous Basket (1985), Chinese Jade from the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum (1989), East Asian Lacquer from the Irving Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (co-authored with Barbara Ford, 1991), Possessing the Past (with Wen C. Fong, 1996), and When Silk Was Gold (with Anne E. Wardell, 1997). His other books include Paintings in the Shanghai Museum (English edition, 1981) and Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in the Hsu-po Studio (with Jao Tsung-i, 1983).
He has also edited several volumes and contributed dozens of scholarly articles over the past 30 years to such publications as the Journal of the Hong Kong Archaeological Society, Arts of Asia, Orientations, Ars Orientalis, New Asia Academic Bulletin, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. In addition, his numerous book reviews have appeared in Eastern Horizon, China Quarterly, Arts of Asia, and the Journal of Asian Studies, among other publications.
Born in Hong Kong in 1936, Mr. Watt was educated at The King's College, Taunton, the Queen's College, Oxford, and the University of Hong Kong.
June 14, 2000