The placement of these artworks is disconcerting and, for the most part, brilliant. Viewing the modern work next to ancient artifacts from China and from neighboring countries with which it has had a volatile history, instantly rewires our brains.
I'm glad to say the exhibitions do not overlook the sordid side of the lives of the some 4,000 women -- both courtesans and street prostitutes -- who lived and worked and usually never escaped the Yoshiwara. The context is everything. But by now, so is the art. I say don't miss it.
Ellison is wealthy enough not only to have a collection of very good Japanese works (sculpture, paintings, folding screens, hanging scrolls, lacquer and metal work), but to have the former director of the Asian as his private curator.
Interspersed between courses were performances meant to evoke ancient warriors, traditional Chinese instrumental music, and a spirited auction of two original recent artworks by Zheng Chongbin and Arnold Chang, along with a dinner for ten at the restaurant du jour, Benu.
Any exhibition on the wealth of a nation's royal class is an exhibition of the inflated amour-propre of men with money. Add to the club the princes on display in Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts.