Past Exhibitions

Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd – 6th Centuries

September 30, 2016 – March 19, 2017

The Six Dynasties period, from the 3rd to 6th centuries, was one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese art history, akin to the European Renaissance in the impact it had on artistic creativity and the celebration of individual expression. Over the past twenty years, archaeological excavations have unearthed extraordinary works of art, forever altering scholarly understanding of this chaotic, four-hundred-year period of political upheaval, geographical division and civil strife. Not only was the Six Dynasties period a pivotal link in the historical timeline between the Han and Tang dynasties, but it is increasingly recognized for having laid the foundation for Chinese artistic standards, genres, subjects, and important themes that continue to define Chinese art today. This exhibition will present the artistic innovations and achievements evidenced by recent archaeological findings from both the Southern and Northern Dynasties across four major disciplines: ceramics, sculpture, calligraphy and painting. Each of these disciplines provides a different glimpse into daily and ritual life during this time. Through instability came great artistic innovation, resulting in the emergence of enduring subjects, genres, and themes. This exhibition will highlight these lasting elements of Six Dynasties art, allowing visitors to see and better understand the trajectory of Chinese art that continues to today. View the virtual tour

Mao’s Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution

September 18, 2014 – April 26, 2015

Around half a century ago during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), China was in a political “mango-fever.” In 1968, after receiving a gift of mangoes from the visiting Pakistani foreign minister, Mao Zedong sent the fruit to the “Worker-Peasant Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Teams.” It coincided with a turning point in the Cultural Revolution from student-leading to worker-peasant-leading. Mangoes, an unfamiliar fruit at that time in China, became a temporary political symbol of Chairman Mao’s benevolence and love for the people. By showcasing over 80 mango-related objects, Mao’s Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution will explore the interaction of material culture and politics during this period.

Inspired by Dunhuang: Re-creation in Contemporary Chinese Art

December 14, 2013 – June 8, 2014

Like the old masters before them, modern and contemporary luminaries, such as Zhang Daqian, Zhang Hongtu, Liu Jude, Liu Dan, Yu Hong, and others, have sought inspiration from Dunhuang’s ancient sculptures and murals. Inspired by Dunhuang presents the breathtaking results of their painstaking creative efforts, works which capture the experience of Dunhuang in ways that are powerfully transformative. With its carefully curated group of paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, photographs, and mixed media installations encompassing a variety of themes and forms, this exhibition is a pioneering exploration of the historical, literary, artistic, and conceptual nature of the inspiration and influence exerted by Dunhuang’s thousand-year-old tradition on contemporary artistic creation.

This exhibition was organized by China Institute Gallery and curated by Willow Hai Chang, Director of China Institute Gallery, and Jerome Silbergeld, the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History and Director of the Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University.

This exhibition was made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the generous support of the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and China Institute Friends of the Gallery.

Dunhuang: Buddhist Art at the Gateway of the Silk Road

April 19, 2013 – October 6, 2013

Dunhuang, the western gateway to China, is one of the world’s most esteemed art shrines and cultural heritage sites. Dunhuang: Buddhist Art at the Gateway of the Silk Road addresses art and ritual practices of the Northern dynasties (420-589) and the Tang dynasty (618-907). The exhibition features excavated art works, high relief clay figures, wooden sculpture, silk banners, and molded bricks. A group of treasured Buddhist sutras from the famous Cangjingdong (The Library Cave) illustrate the story behind Dunhuang’s historic discovery. Magnificent replicas of a 6th-century central pillar and an 8th-century cave allow visitors to experience the actual cave setting.

This exhibition was organized by China Institute Gallery and Dunhuang Academy under the direction of Willow Weilan Hai Chang and was curated by Fan Jinshi, Director of Dunhuang Academy.

For various press coverage, please visit the following links: Exhibition Review on The New York Times

This exhibition is organized by China Institute Gallery and Dunhuang Academy under the direction of Willow Weilan Hai Chang and is curated by Fan Jinshi, Director of Dunhuang Academy.

This exhibition was made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the generous support of the Asian Cultural Council, Blakemore Foundation, the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation and China Institute Friends of the Gallery.

CONFUCIUS: His Life and Legacy in Art

February 11—June 13, 2010
Although the arts of Buddhism and Daoism are well known, the study of art forms related to Confucianism is only just beginning. Confucianism, a philosophy based on the teachings of Confucius (551 BCE – 479 BCE), pervades the customs of many Asian cultures from ancient times to the present day, but we are left to wonder, who is Confucius? In this ground-breaking exhibition, intriguing aspects of Confucius and Confucianism are explored through material and visual culture, explaining his teachings and ritual practices. Selected from the Shandong Provincial Museum and the Confucius Museum in Qufu, Shandong, the hometown of Confucius, this group of artworks, including paintings, bronzes, jades, books, costumes, stone carvings, and enamel vessels represent the first exhibition organized in the United States that illuminates Confucius as an historical figure and how he has been venerated for the past 2,000 years. A fully illustrated scholarly catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The exhibition is directed by Willow Hai Chang, Director of China Institute Gallery, and co-curated by Lu Wensheng, Director of the Shandong Provincial Museum, and Julia K. Murray, Professor of Art History and East Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin.  For various press coverage, please visit the following links: