Exhibition: Vision and Verse – The Poetry of Chinese Painting (The Met Fifth Avenue)

Date of event:   03/02/2024 − 16/06/2024

Title: Vision and Verse: The Poetry of Chinese Painting
Duration: 3 February 2024 to 16 June 2024
Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, USA

Poetry and painting are deeply intertwined in Chinese culture. Many painters took ancient poetry as their inspiration, either directly illustrating famous verses or attempting to evoke them more subtly in the mind of the viewer. The poetic tradition, which reaches back over two millennia, provided these artists with a rich wellspring from which to draw, including verses on nature, religion, and ancient ritual and customs. For painters who were themselves poets, one of the greatest ambitions was to create a work that combined their original poetry, calligraphy, and painting into a coherent artwork, known as the “three perfections” in Chinese—a chance to stand on the shoulders of their poetic heroes and add their voice to the tradition.

This exhibition explores some of the ways in which Chinese painters engaged with poetry to build connections and develop layers of meaning in their art. Featuring 90 works drawn almost entirely from The Met’s collection, the exhibition presents a selection of painting, calligraphy, and decorative arts. Spanning works inspired by ancient Chinese poetry such as the Book of Odes (Shijing), poetry of the Tang Dynasty, Chan/Zen Buddhist poetry, and more, the exhibition examines the ways in which the image and the verse inspired and impacted one another over time.

For more information, please visit the website here.

Image: Hua Guan (active late 18th to early 19th century). Portrait of a gentleman gathering chrysanthemums (detail), Qing dynasty (1644–1911), dated 1790. Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper. Purchase, Robert Hatfield Ellsworth Bequest, 2023 (2023.299).