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The Art of the Chinese Album [feat. Taca Sui]

Featuring Taca Sui's Album Odes, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

The Art of the Chinese Album, opening September 6 in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Galleries, will focus on one of the most intimate formats of Chinese painting. Featuring more than 40 works of painting and calligraphy, the exhibition will explore the many ways in which the album has been used—for example, to depict visual tours across landscapes, display collections of exquisite flowers, and present anthologies of previous styles. Highlights of the exhibition will include masterworks by renowned artists such as Gong Xian (1619–1689), Shitao (1642–1707), and Dong Qichang (1555–1636), and these will be interspersed with works by contemporary artists who employ the format. Drawn primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection, it will also include 10 loans from three private collections.

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Albums consist of multiple leaves bound together in a book-like format, which provides a viewing experience that unfolds in stages, like a journey. This process of discovery is what makes albums special, and it presented unique challenges and opportunities to artists. The exhibition will include Returning Home (ca. 1695) by Shitao who used the format to shock and surprise viewers with each turn of the page; Landscapes by Dai Benxiao (1621–1693) who favored a more consistent style; and Landscapes by Dong Qichang who utilized the format to display art historical knowledge: each leaf is devoted to the style of a different old master. 

Chinese artists today push the boundaries of this traditional format with new tools and approaches. The exhibition on view will include three contemporary works, including Odes(2013) by Taca Sui (b. 1984).

The Art of the Chinese Album is organized by Joseph Scheier Dolberg, Assistant Curator in the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum.


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