Companions in Solitude: Reclusion and Communion in Chinese Art

July 31, 2021–August 14, 2022
Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

This exhibition will explore the twin themes of solitude and togetherness in Chinese art. For more than two thousand years, reclusion—removing oneself from society—has been presented as the ideal condition for mental cultivation and transcending worldly troubles. At the same time, communion with like-minded people has been celebrated as essential to the human experience. This choice, to be alone or to be together, has been central to the lives of thinkers and artists, and Chinese art abounds with images of figures who pursued both paths—as well as those who wove them together in complex and surprising ways. Companions in Solitude, presented in two rotations, will bring together more than 120 works of painting, calligraphy, and decorative arts that illuminate this choice—depictions of why and how people have sought space from the world or attempted to bridge the divide between themselves and others. In the wake of 2020, a year that has isolated us physically but connected us virtually in unprecedented ways, this exploration of premodern Chinese reclusion and communion will invite meditation on the fracture and facture of human connection in our own time.

Rotation one: July 31, 2021–January 9, 2022
Rotation two: January 31, 2022–August 14, 2022

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Unidentified artist (Chinese, 16th century). Playing the zither for a crane, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), mid-16th century. Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, 1972 (1972.278.3)