About The Met/ Curatorial Departments/ Asian Art/ Asian Art News: Fall 2017/ Exhibitions


Current Exhibitions

Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal

December 16, 2017–December 16, 2018
Gallery 251, South Asian Special Exhibition Gallery, Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia
John Guy, Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asian Art

Ritual crown

Ritual is at the heart of the esoteric school of Buddhism practiced in the Himalayas. Central to its enactment in Nepal is the wearing of elaborate crowns, gilt copper and jewel encrusted, befitting the perfected being (bodhisattva) that the priests performing this ritual service impersonate during worship. By wearing the crown, the practitioner is understood to ultimately become a bodhisattva, with full knowledge (wisdom) and (spiritual) authority. These crowns are worn exclusively by the hereditary caste of Vajracharyas, who occupy the highest rank in the Nepalese Buddhist community and serve as the officiating ritual agents of Vajrayana Buddhism as practiced in Nepal. This exhibition features five spectacular crowns at its center, configured as a mandala, supported by The Met's unrivalled holding of early Nepalese cloth paintings, and ritual paraphernalia associated with ritual performance. These crowns, some dating as early as the 13th century, preserve the memory of early Indian Buddhist practices otherwise lost to us.

The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund.

Vajracharya's ritual crown, 13th century. Nepal, Early Malla period. Gilt-copper alloy inlaid with semiprecious stones. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Barbara and David Kipper, 2016 (2016.408)

Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection

June 13, 2017–February 4, 2018
Galleries 223–232, Arts of Japan, The Sackler Wing Galleries
Monika Bincsik, Assistant Curator

Geometric bamboo basket sculpture

Beginning in the late 19th century, basketry in Japan became recognized as a form of art transcending craft. This exhibition showcases more than 80 baskets and abstract sculptures, including award-winning works by all six artists currently recognized as Living National Treasures. Highlighting key stages in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art, the exhibition will examine the evolution of styles and plaiting techniques while introducing the main lineages of bamboo masters and the emergence of a contemporary bamboo art scene.

Drawn from the Diane and Arthur Abbey Collection—one of the finest such assemblages in private hands—the exhibition features more than 50 promised gifts to The Met. The bamboo works are complemented by a selection of paintings and decorative arts from The Met’s holdings, exploring such related themes as the four seasons, floral compositions, and the tea ceremony, as well as bamboo as a motif in East Asian art.

The exhibition is made possible by Diane and Arthur Abbey.

Tanabe Chikuunsai III (1940–2014). Delight for the Future, 2008. Heisei period (1989–present). Arrow bamboo, timber bamboo, rattan, and lacquer. Promised gift of Diane and Arthur Abbey

Streams and Mountains without End: Landscape Traditions of China

August 26, 2017–January 6, 2019
Galleries 210–216
Douglas Dillon Galleries, C.C. Wang Family Gallery, Frances Young Tang Gallery
Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Assistant Curator

Long horizontal handscroll painting of winding river

About 1000 years ago, the legendary landscape painter Guo Xi posed the question, "In what does a gentleman's love of landscape consist?" This question is at the heart of this exhibition, which will explore the many uses of landscape in the Chinese visual arts. Showcasing more than 120 landscape paintings in three rotations, the exhibition offers gateways into the tradition, drawing out distinctions between types of landscape that may not be obvious at first glance. What initially appears to be a simple mountain dwelling, for example, is revealed to be the villa of the painter's friend, which encodes a wish for his happy retirement; what seems at first to be a simple study in dry brushwork turns out to be an homage to an old master, a sign of reverence for what had come before. Drawn primarily from The Met's holdings, supplemented by a dozen private loans, the presentation is augmented by decorative art objects with landscape themes.

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Ten Thousand Miles along the Yellow River (detail), 1680s. China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Two handscrolls, ink, color, and gold on silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, W. M. Keck Foundation Gift, The Dillon Fund Gift and gifts from various donors, in memory of Douglas Dillon, 2006 (2006.272a, b)

A Passion for Jade: Heber Bishop and His Collection

October 21, 2017–July 22, 2018
Gallery 222, Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for Chinese Decorative Arts
Jason Sun, Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art

Jade jar with cover with gold and stone inlays

This exhibition presents a selection of the most refined works among the Bishop collection that feature carvings of jade, the most esteemed stone in China, and many other hardstones including agate, quartz, turquoise, malachite, and lapis lazuli. They represent the sophisticated art of Chinese lapidaries during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) as well as the highly accomplished works of Mogul Indian (1526–1857) craftsmen that provided an exotic inspiration to their Chinese counterparts. Also on display is a set of Chinese lapidary tools and illustrations of jade workshops, which will introduce the traditional method of working jade to all viewers.

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Jar with cover, 18th–19th century. India, Mughal period (1526–1858) or Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Jade (nephrite) with gold and stone inlays. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Heber R. Bishop, 1902 (02.18.775)

Spirited Creatures: Animal Representations in Chinese Silk and Lacquer

October 21, 2017–July 22, 2018
Gallery 220–221, Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for Chinese Decorative Arts
Pengliang Lu, Henry A. Kissinger Curatorial Fellow

Jade jar with cover with gold and stone inlays

This exhibition explores how real and mythical animals— such as the lion, ox, butterfly, dragon, phoenix, and unicorn—are depicted on luxury materials of late imperial China. Presenting 20 textiles and 50 lacquers spanning several hundred years—from the 13th to the 19th century—the exhibition highlights the imagery on a wide range of objects: dragon robes, rank badges, tapestry panels for interior decoration, and lacquer vessels from imperial workshops, as well as a select group of related metalwork pieces and ceramics. The objects are drawn exclusively from The Met collection.

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Round box with dragon design (detail). China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Carved lacquer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 2015 (2015.500.1.71a, b)

Upcoming Exhibitions

Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art

Feb 7–May 20, 2018
Gallery 233, Arts of Korea Gallery
Soyoung Lee, Curator

Dark mountain peaks on a gold ground with cluster of white mountains breaking through the clouds

The Diamond Mountains—perhaps the most famous and emotionally resonant site on the Korean peninsula—is the theme of this international loan exhibition. Though the region has inspired cultural pride since ancient times, its location in what is today North Korea has kept it largely inaccessible in modern times. Featuring nearly 30 works—from delicately painted scrolls and screens to monumental modern and contemporary art—the exhibition will present the visual imagery of this iconic site from the 18th century to the present. Among the highlights is a designated Treasure from the National Museum of Korea: an album by Jeong Seon (1676–1759), who revolutionized Korean painting. Most of the objects on view have never before been displayed in the United States.

The exhibition is part of a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of The Met's Arts of Korea Gallery. The exhibition's opening month also coincides with South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang.

Accompanied by a catalogue.

Two logos
The exhibition is made possible by The Met's collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (MCST) and the National Museum of Korea (NMK).

Support for the publication is provided by MCST and The Kun-Hee Lee Fund for Korean Art.

Jeong Seon (1676–1759). Mount Geumgang Viewed from Danbal Ridge, leaf from the Album of Mount Geumgang, 1711. Ink and light color on silk. National Museum of Korea, Treasure no. 1875

Cosmic Buddhas in the Himalayas

June 24–December 10, 2017
Gallery 251, South Asian Special Exhibition Gallery
Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator

Terracotta image of Akshobhya, Buddha of the Eastern Pure LandTo this day, being reborn in one of the heavens inhabited by a living Buddha offers a clear path to enlightenment for Himalayan Buddhist communities. Vairochana, the emanation of the historic Buddha Shakyamuni, sits at the center of this cosmos, while Pure Lands in the four cardinal directions are presided over by celestial Buddhas. The vast and complex Mahayana and tantric pantheons of Buddhist gods and goddesses are emanations of these living Buddhas. Individual deities personify an idea—compassion, abundance, learning or protection. This cosmic organization gives a popular goddess like the savior Tara a clear place within the Buddhist pantheon, while an advanced tantric practitioner can conceptualize a powerful esoteric deity like Hevajra in an unambiguous, spatial context. This exhibition evokes a cosmic diagram by placing an image of Vairochana at the center of the gallery, while the directional cosmic Buddhas are arrayed along the four walls together with some of their most significant manifestations—presenting this complex Buddhist pantheon of deities in a startlingly simple way.

The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund.

Akshobhya, the Buddha of the Eastern Pure Land (detail). Nepal, 16th–17th century. Terracotta. Seymour Fund, 1962 (62.207)