NEW YORK–The spiritual world of premodern China is the focus of an exhibition opening on August 24 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another World Lies Beyond: Chinese Art and the Divine is drawn primarily from The Met’s holdings and will explore how religion, divinity, and spirituality were expressed in various art forms, from painting to sculpture to popular prints. The exhibition highlights the fluidity of spiritual life in premodern China, when believers often mixed Buddhist, Daoist, and popular deities in search of a connection with the divine. Augmented by works from Persia, Tibet, Japan, and Korea, the exhibition will also demonstrate the ease with which deities, teachings, and artistic styles crossed political and cultural boundaries.
The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.
Premodern China teemed with images of the divine that were seen as portals to realms and forces beyond the human world. This exhibition will present a variety of such works—more than 100—dating from the 6th century to the early 20th, from humble printed images of a stove god made to hang in the kitchen to the most lavish ritual paintings created for a Buddhist monastery.
Organized thematically, the exhibition begins with galleries devoted to Buddhist art. Buddhism, which began in India and was brought to China by traveling teachers around two thousand years ago, became a major force in Chinese spiritual life and a wellspring of imagery. One gallery is devoted to the arts of Daoism, a native religion that draws on ancient Chinese philosophy and popular religious practice. The final galleries are devoted to the divine presence that appears in the home and the countryside as expressed in popular deities and fantastical creatures.
The exhibition is organized by Joseph Scheier-Dolberg,Oscar Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang Associate Curator of Chinese Paintings in the Department of Asian Art at The Met.