Jay Jie Xu, 45, will become director of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum on June 15, according to an announcement Wednesday by board chair Dixon Doll. The position has beenvacant since the beginning of the year with the retirement of Emily J. Sano, who held the position for 15 years.
Xu (pronounced “shu”) has been with the Art Institute of Chicago, serving as Pritzker Chairman of the Department of Asian and Ancient Art since 2006. Previously, he has worked with the Seattle Art Museum, New York’s Metropolitan and the Shanghai Museum.
“I have a profound respect and appreciation for the museum’s acclaimed collection, its exhibitions, and public programs,” Xu said of the 42-year-old San Francisco institution, which is marking its fifth year in the new Civic Center building. “I will strive to build upon the museum’s strength in showcasing the best of Asian art and culture, and to bring this outstanding institution to another level of excellence.”
A scholar with a prolific publication record, Xu has specialized in 20th century Chinese literature and cinema, writing about the works of Hong Ying, Zhang Wei, Wang Xiaoshuai, and Zhang Chengzhi. While in Chicago, Xu made significant acquisitions in many areas of Asian art, such as ancient Chinese bronzes, Korean screens, Japanese ceramics, Indian and Southeast Asian sculptures. He curated or supervised such exhibits as “Perpetual Glory: Medieval Islamic Ceramics” and “Japanese Art from the Alsdorf Collection.”