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Asian Art

Asian

The collection of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum—more than 35,000 objects, ranging in date from the third millennium B.C. to the twenty-first century—is one of the largest and is the most comprehensive in the West. Each of the many civilizations of Asia is represented by outstanding works, providing an unrivaled experience of the artistic traditions of nearly half the world.

Now at the Met

What's in a Face?

Soyoung Lee, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Portraits can reveal so much about the character of the person depicted, beyond the obvious physical traits. What can you tell about the gentleman in this painting?

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Spectrum Spotlight—China: Through the Looking Glass

Christopher Gorman, Assistant Administrator, Marketing and External Relations; Chair, Spectrum

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute, recently spoke with me about the special exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, extended through September 7.

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A Reunion after Sixty Years: The Lin Yutang Family Collection

Shi-yee Liu, Assistant Research Curator of Chinese Art, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2015

The Metropolitan Museum's collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy, one of the finest outside China in both quality and scope, is largely built upon the acquisition of a few private collections. The nearly three hundred works that entered the Museum from the collections of C. C. Wang (1907–2003), the Edward Elliot Family, and John M. Crawford, Jr. (1913–88) in the 1970s and 1980s include several of the most important extant Song (960–1279) and Yuan (1271–1368) pieces today. Spanning the period from the eleventh to the nineteenth century, these works form the core of the department's painting and calligraphy collection from dynastic China.

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Vernal Splendor: Kano Sansetsu's Old Plum

Aaron Rio, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2015

In Kano Sansetsu's Old Plum—currently on view in the exhibition Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met—a wizened plum tree stirs in the cold of early spring. At lower right, its buckled trunk rises near pillar-like rocks and a thicket of bamboo grass (sasayabu) before stretching to the left, heaving and gyrating its way across a sixteen-foot expanse of gold foil. Green lichen clings to its knotty trunk and icy white blossoms open on its fragile twigs, frozen stiff against the gold.

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Installing Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art ; Kristine Kamiya, Associate Conservator, Department of Textile Conservation; and Matthew Cumbie, Conservation Preparator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015

During the earliest stages of conceptualizing the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, on view through June 14, I went through the Metropolitan Museum's holdings and came across a stunning body of jewelry that came to the collection in 1915. As the Department of Asian Art is celebrating its centennial this year, I was excited to have the opportunity to present the very first Himalayan works to come into our collection—the first of many works acquired beginning exactly one hundred years ago.

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The Shapes of Things, or, How the Ding Met the Tureen

Denise Patry Leidy, Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2015

This spring, the subject of cultural exchange between China and the West has been a hot topic thanks to the exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, a collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art. Yet fashion is by no means the only arena in which Western artists have been inspired by Chinese objects. For instance, bronze ritual vessels known as ding (figs. 1 and 2), which emerged during China's Bronze Age (ca. 1600–221 B.C.), have long inspired objects ranging from Korean chaekgori screens to Viennese bowls.

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Now at the Met

Crossing Cultures—Platon for China: Through the Looking Glass

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2015

Best known for his compelling portraits of world leaders, Platon spent several months photographing couture garments from designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as traditional Chinese costume and decorative art objects. I spoke with him about the book, his work, and the importance of artists as cultural mediators.

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Asian Art Centennial: One Hundred Years of Tibetan Art at the Met

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In 1915, the president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert de Forest, turned his attention to Asia and acquired a large group of Nepalese and Tibetan gem-studded objects. Among them was this dazzling ornament for the forehead of a sculpture. It presents the four directional Buddhas in diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, as well as auspicious materials such as red coral and turquoise. At the center, the cosmic axis of the universe, is a vajra featuring a large diamond surrounded by lapis lazuli—a clear reference to Vajrayana Buddhism as the diamond path.

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Evoking the Divine: Mental Purification Using a Tibetan Tsakali Mandala

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015

Tsakali cards were used by a practitioner, usually a monk or nun, under the guidance of a teacher to evoke a Buddhist deity. As these teachers traveled from one monastery to the next, using sets of portable tsakali cards was an efficient way of presenting the vast pantheon of Buddhist gods.

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Nine "Secrets" about the History of the Met's Department of Asian Art

Mike Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman of the Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2015

In preparing a history of the Museum's Department of Asian Art, which this year celebrates its centennial by showcasing its unparalleled collection through a range of exhibitions, gallery talks, and other offerings, I have uncovered a number of little-known facts and many "secrets" that are not widely known to the public. Here are nine of the most fascinating.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.