Dr. Jane Portal - Matsutaro Chair of the Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
In this lecture, Jane Portal will explore both the traditional and the more innovative art being produced in North Korea under the present regime. She will discuss the role of archaeology in North Korea through some specific examples. She will also discuss the Kim cult as manifested in North Korea and the art produced in this closely controlled environment. Using examples seen and some acquired during two trips to North Korea in 2001 and 2002, she will present a variety of different types of art and suggest some influences on their production.
Having studied Chinese at Cambridge University, Jane Portal spent a year in Beijing University as one of the first foreign students to be allowed to follow courses in Chinese archaeology there in 1979-80. She was subsequently employed as a curator at the British Museum for 21 years, during which time she took a second degree in Korean, studying for a year in Seoul, Korea. She curated the permanent Korea Foundation Gallery at the British Museum which opened in 2000 and subsequently visited North Korea twice. She was then given overall responsibility for the Chinese and Korean collections. In 2002, when Neil McGregor became Director, she accompanied him to China several times, developing the China Strategy. She coordinated the signing of MOU’s with three major Chinese museums and the sending of several British Museum exhibitions to China. She organized a large loan exhibition from China in 2007-The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army, the most successful exhibition at the British Museum since Tutankhamun, attracting over 850,000 visitors in 6 months. A smaller version of it toured four venues in the USA in 2008-10. It won the Exhibition of the Year award in the UK in 2007. In 2008 Jane was appointed as Chair of the Department of Asia, Oceania and Africa at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Portal’s publications include: Korea: Art and Archaeology (London: British Museum Press, 2000) Chinese Love Poetry (editor; London: British Museum Press, 2004) North Korean Culture and Society. British Museum Research Publication 151 (ed, with Beth McKillop) (London: The British Museum, 2004) Art Under Control in North Korea (London: Reaktion Books in association with British Museum Press, 2005); American edition (University of Chicago Press, 2005); Korean edition (Keelsan Books, Seoul, 2005) Chinese Art in Detail (with Carol Michaelson) (London, British Museum Press, 2006). The First Emperor:China’s Terracotta Army (exhibition catalogue; editor and contributor), (London, British Museum Press, 2007) The Terracotta Army (London, British Museum Press, 2007)