Thursday March 17, 2016
Tags for: George Gund III Bequeaths Early Treasures of Japanese and Korean Art to Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Press Release

George Gund III Bequeaths Early Treasures of Japanese and Korean Art to Cleveland Museum of Art

exterior of the CMA building

Cleveland (March 16, 2016) The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) announces that it has received a bequest of early treasures of Japanese and Korean art from the George Gund III Collection. 

A Cleveland native, George Gund III (1937–2013) maintained a strong relationship with the Cleveland Museum of Art throughout his life, even as he traveled the world and participated in the arenas of sport and film. His bequest, including some 55 paintings and calligraphies, will significantly expand the museum’s holdings of important 14th to 17th-century Japanese ink paintings and calligraphies and add several extremely rare Korean paintings ranging from the 16th through the 19th century. In addition to the paintings, Gund also left the museum a handsome group of early Japanese Buddhist sculptures from the 11th to 14th century, as well as Japanese ceramics from the 14th to the 16th century.      

This bequest marks a profoundly significant chapter in the history of the Gund family’s generosity to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Director of the Cleveland Museum William Griswold commented: “Mr. Gund demonstrated great forethought in selecting these works for Cleveland. His collection complements our existing holdings and greatly enhances our ability to present the extraordinary achievements of Japanese and Korean artists to our visitors.” The announcement of the works in the bequest comes just three months into the yearlong celebration of the museum’s centennial. 

Highlights from the Japanese works in Gund’s collection will be exhibited in the spring of 2017 with an accompanying publication. Featured works will include a rare early painting, Reeds and Geese, which bears an inscription by an eminent Chinese monk Yishan Yining (Japanese, Issan Ichinei, 1247-1317), active in Japan as a spiritual advisor to the ruling military elites and a major force in the development of Zen monastic literature. Two marvelous fan-shaped paintings from a group painted in ink and gold by Shikibu Terutada (active mid-16th century) will join another from the same group already in the museum’s collection. There will also be calligraphies by famed Zen monk Ikkyū Sōjun (1394-1481) and his peers, and Kamakura-period (1185-1333) gilt wood sculptures of the Buddhas Amida and Shakyamuni.  

Korean works in the collection include an eight-panel folding screen with dynamic twisting grapevines by Choe Seok-hwan (active first half of 19th century), as well as a precious 16th-century monumental ink landscape, Dwelling by a Mountain Stream. These works will have their debut in 2017 in the museum’s Korea Foundation Gallery, which is currently being enhanced with support from a grant from the National Museum of Korea. 

Gund’s interest in Asian art was born during his first visit to Japan while serving in the Marine Corps. His love of monochromatic ink painting and calligraphy deepened throughout his life as he amassed a collection that exemplifies an intensely personal vision and refined sensibility. Gund’s accomplishments and contributions are a testament to his wide-ranging interests and skills; he was co-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and the San Jose Sharks hockey team, Chairman of the San Francisco Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival, and served on the boards of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Film Society, the Gund Foundation, and the National Museum of the American Indian. His love of art and music harken back to his childhood when he visited the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Symphony with his family. 

Centennial Celebration
One hundred years ago the Cleveland Museum of Art opened its doors to the public. In 2016 the museum invites all audiences to celebrate its 100th anniversary, honoring the past and looking ahead to the future. Program highlights include special centennial exhibitions representing the creative genius of four continents, spanning ancient to contemporary art, as well as the presentation of extraordinary individual works of art on loan from top-tier institutions all over the world, and once-in-a-lifetime events and community programs.

For more information about centennial year events, visit

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261