The exhibition title Children to Immortals can be understood both as From Children to Immortality as well as Children of the Divine. The works on display were selected to cover the eternal lifespan of the Chinese people, from early childhood through the afterlife and eventual divine immortality. But the thesis of the exhibit is that Figural Representation in Chinese art is intended not to capture an accurate--or even idealized--physical reproduction of a model. Instead, Chinese artists seek to capture the inner spirit or chuanshen--the divinity inherent in mortality represented in art.
What You Will See
The exhibition features more than 120 different objects, mostly drawn from the Met's vast permanent collection. People of all ages and social classes are represented in sculptures, relieve, paintings, carvings, and jewelry. The exhibit is divided into three sections, each examining a different chapter in the life of its subjects. Children at Play explores how the vibrancy of youth is captured in art. History, Legend, and Idealized Life looks at the Chinese ideals of social order. The exhibit concludes with Land of the Immortals, contrasting the Daoist and Buddhist visions of divinity and the afterlife.
Why You Should Go
Featuring works of art dating back to the 10th century, many of the objects featured in the exhibition are too delicate to be consistently displayed at the Met. This is a rare opportunity to see some of the masterpieces of the Met's Asian collection. While the exhibition is one of the Met's longest-running, the works will rotate for conservation and preservation, so plan on returning to revisit the fascinating world of Chinese figural representation.