New York’s Metropolitan Museum Brings Views Of Nature To Beijing

“I’m Sure In The Future We Will Have Other Collaborations As Well.”

National Museum of China, Beijing

Recently, the National Museum of China in Beijing teamed up with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to open the traveling exhibition “Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art,” the first large-scale exhibition cooperatively put on by the National Museum and the Met since the former re-opened its renovated doors two years ago. Hailing the show — which recently closed at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum — as a major expression of the growing cultural exchange between China and the United States, the Met’s director Thomas Campbell said, “Never before has an exhibition of this scope and theme, drawn entirely from the Met’s holdings, traveled to China.”

Centered around the theme of nature, the exhibition draws 130 pieces from 12 of the 17 curatorial departments at the Met, showcasing a wide range of textures, mediums, time periods, and artistic expression, including tapestries, lacquerware and oil paintings dating as far back as the third millennium BCE. Organized into the sub-themes of Nature Idealized, The Human Presence in Nature, Animals, Flowers and Gardens, Nature in the Camera Lens, Earth and Sky, and Watery World, the exhibition includes works by Rembrandt, Claude Monet, and Edward Hopper as well as Vincent van Gogh’s Cypresses (1889) and Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian Women Bathing (1892).

Peter Barnet, the exhibition creator and organizer, as well as the medieval art curator at the Met, explained, “I chose the theme of nature as a very broad-based theme from which we could pull from all over our collection. By bringing these objects together I think we can see things in a way that one cannot even when you visit New York.”

Vincent van Gogh, Cypresses (1889)

The Met show is the latest in a series of international exhibitions hosted by the National Museum, following exhibition partnerships with the Uffizi Gallery, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. While the National Museum has often been criticized as a tool to promote China’s cultural ambitions — aptly flanking Tian’anmen Square — museums have come to recognize the country’s presence in the global art world and looked to take advantage of the growing number of museums in China. For Campbell, the recent collaboration with the National Museum is “an opportunity — a central space in Beijing to share the treasures of the Metropolitan Museum with a broad Chinese audience. I’m sure in the future we will have other collaborations as well.”

The exhibition is scheduled to run through May 9. For more information, check out the National Museum’s exhibition page.

Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art
Feb 1, 2013 – May 9, 2013
The National Museum of China,16 East Chang’an Avenue
Dongcheng District, Beijing


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