Nelson-Atkins landscapes drawing crowds in Shanghai

Attributed to: Li Cheng , Chinese , 919-967 C.E. A Solitary Temple Amid Clearing Peaks, Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Image: 44 x 22 inches (111.76 x 55.88 cm). Overall (1-1/2″ hanging string): 88 x 22 1/2 inches (223.52 x 57.15 cm). Hanging scroll, ink and slight color on silk. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust.

Several Chinese landscape paintings from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are on display this month – in  Shanghai.

The exhibit offers Chinese scholars and visitors an opportunity to see important early Chinese paintings from American museums. The Nelson-Atkins is known for its collection of Chinese art.

According to a press release from the Nelson-Atkins:

The most treasured Chinese landscape paintings from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art collection are part of a special 60th anniversary exhibition at the Shanghai Museum that opened this month to enormous crowds and much praise. The special exhibition, Masterpieces of Early Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in American Collections, is an assemblage of masterpieces showcasing the best Chinese paintings and calligraphies from the 10th to the 14th centuries. More than 8,000 visitors are attending each day.

The Nelson-Atkins is among the rare museums that can tell the story of Chinese painting during the Song Dynasty, considered one of the world’s greatest artistic revolutions. The Chair of the Nelson-Atkins Board of Trustees, Sarah Rowland, attended the opening of the exhibition with Colin Mackenzie, the museum’s senior curator of Chinese art.

“The importance of this exhibition is unprecedented,” said Mackenzie. “Never before has such a comprehensive exhibition of early Chinese painting masterworks from American museums been exhibited together and never again is it likely to happen. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the greatest masterworks of world art.”

Sixty pieces of Song and Yuan calligraphy and painting were borrowed from the American museum collections for the exhibition. Organized by the Shanghai Museum, the exhibition is collaboration with the Nelson-Atkins, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Cleveland Museum of Art.

When the paintings come back from China, they’ll be part of a special display at the Nelson-Atkins. Opening February 8, the paintings will be shown in the museum’s Kirkwood Hall and Chinese galleries “in dialogue” with contemporary works by celebrated Chinese artist Xu Longsen, creating a dramatic experience for visitors. Longsen’s work has been inspired by ancient masters of Chinese landscapes, and he will create new works of art in a museum studio while visitors watch.