Exhibitions/ Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close

At The Met Fifth Avenue
December 21, 2020–June 27, 2021

Exhibition Overview

Close looking is at the heart of Chinese painting and calligraphy. In premodern China, painters and calligraphers learned by copying, a practice that required heightened observation of details. In the process, they also learned how to look—how to detect fine distinctions of ink tone, saturation, and line. Only after years of this type of intense looking could a person be considered a true expert.

This exhibition will encourage such looking by displaying original artworks alongside photographic enlargements of their details. The magnified details draw attention to subtleties of brushwork, texture, and line that may escape a viewer at first glance. Ultimately, the enlargements draw us back to the original, revealing the rewards that close looking can offer.

On view in two rotations will be some of the most celebrated works of Chinese painting and calligraphy from the Museum's collection.

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Exhibition Objects

Ma Hezhi (act. ca. 1130-70) and assistants; calligraphy attributed to Emperor Gaozong (1107-1187; r. 1127-62), Odes of the State of Bin (detail), China, Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), mid-12th century. Handscroll; ink, color, gold, and silver on silk. Ex. coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Purchase, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, by exchange, 1973 (1973.121.3)