Photograph of Michael Lin by Tom Chen

Exhibition Dates:
August 15, 2022 – Ongoing

Location:
The Met Fifth Avenue, Escalator, First Floor

The site-specific installation Pentachrome by artist Michael Lin will bring contemporary art to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Great Hall Escalator for the first time. Inspired by the Museum’s collection and the building’s architecture, Pentachrome invites visitors to reconsider the Great Hall, its Balcony, and the surrounding art from a fresh perspective. Using motifs drawn from two Chinese porcelain vases, Lin has created large and vibrant images that will cover the walls along the escalator, drawing attention to the relationship between the Museum’s architecture and the Chinese ceramics displayed nearby. The installation will be on view beginning August 15, 2022.

The installation is made possible by Barbara A. Wolfe and the Director’s Fund.

“We are always looking for new and surprising ways for The Met’s visitors to experience art,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of the Museum. “Michael Lin’s exciting installation activates the escalator in an immersive and unexpected manner, while also raising thought-provoking considerations about the history of displaying Chinese ceramics in The Met’s iconic Great Hall.”

Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, The Met’s Oscar Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang Associate Curator of Chinese Paintings, added, “Michael Lin’s ability to link art, architecture, and human connection makes him the ideal artist for this commission. He has created an indelible visual experience while simultaneously drawing attention to the role that Asian art has played within the grand spaces of The Met.” 

For more than a hundred years, Asian art, especially Chinese ceramics, has adorned the Great Hall, finding a special prominence around the second-floor Balcony. The sinuous forms and vibrant colors of these Chinese artworks have served as both foil and adornment to the neoclassical architecture, which is defined by cool limestone surfaces, soaring columns, domes and arches, and long, regular balustrades. This dynamic was familiar to the founding Trustees of the Museum from their own homes, where Chinese ceramics were used to add color, form, and a hint of exoticism to Beaux-arts and Rococo interiors. Over time, while the Museum’s collection has grown and its understanding of other cultures has evolved, this fundamental relationship between European architecture and Chinese adornment has persisted.

Pentachrome  spotlights, explores, and inverts this relationship. As visitors travel up the escalator, they are surrounded by images of birds and flowers drawn from two Qing-dynasty porcelain vases that have been enlarged to heroic, overwhelming scale. Inspired by street poster (“wild posting”) campaigns seen in the urban landscape, Lin applies the images in a cumulative, irregular way, breaking down the formal Museum environment and inviting the casual engagement of the street. By surrounding and immersing visitors in these images, Lin invites us to look and think more deeply about their paradoxical role—one that is both central and sidelined—within the history of the Museum’s Great Hall.

Pentachrome was conceived by the artist in consultation with Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, the Oscar Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang Associate Curator of Chinese Paintings in The Met’s Department of Asian Art.

The installation will be featured on The Met website as well as on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #MetPentachrome.

About the Artist

Artist Michael Lin (born 1964, Tokyo) lives and works in Taipei and Brussels. He orchestrates monumental painting installations that re-conceptualize and reconfigure public spaces, and in his work he uses patterns and designs appropriated from traditional Taiwanese textiles. Lin’s work has been exhibited in major institutions and international Biennials around the world, including The Auckland Triennial and the California Pacific Triennial, 2013; Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila, 2016; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2017; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, 2019; and, most recently in 2020, at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, and Jumex Museum, Mexico City.