Photo by Michael Lin by Tom Chen
August 15, 2022 – Ongoing
The Met Fifth Avenue, escalator, ground 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 architecture of the building, Pentachrome invites visitors to view the Great Hall, its balcony and the surrounding art from a new perspective. Using motifs of two Chinese porcelain vases, Lin has created large and vibrant images that cover the walls along the escalator, drawing attention to the relationship between the museum’s architecture and the Chinese ceramics on display nearby. The installation can be seen from August 15, 2022.
The installation is made possible by Barbara A. Wolfe and the Director’s Fund.
“We’re always looking for new and surprising ways for visitors to The Met to experience art,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen, the museum’s French director. “Michael Lin’s exciting installation activates the escalator in an immersive and unexpected way, while also provoking reflection on the history of the Met’s legendary Great Hall’s exhibition of Chinese ceramics.”
Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Associate Curator of Chinese Paintings by Oscar Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang of The Met, added: “Michael Lin’s ability to blend art, architecture and human relationships makes him the ideal artist for the commission. He has created an indelible visual experience while drawing attention to the role Asian art has played in The Met’s grand spaces.”
For more than a hundred years, Asian art, particularly Chinese ceramics, has adorned the Great Hall and takes on special prominence around the second-floor balcony. The sinuous forms and bright colors of these Chinese artworks served both as foil and adornment for the Neoclassical architecture, defined by cool limestone surfaces, soaring columns, domes and arches, and long, regular balustrades. This dynamic was familiar to the museum’s founding curators from their own homes, where Chinese ceramics were used to add colour, form and an exotic touch to Beaux-Arts and Rococo interiors. As the museum’s collection has grown over time and its understanding of other cultures has evolved, this fundamental relationship between European architecture and Chinese ornamentation has remained.
Pentachrome illuminates, explores and reverses this relationship. As visitors ascend the escalator, they are surrounded by images of birds and flowers derived from two Qing Dynasty porcelain vases enlarged to a heroic, overwhelming scale. Inspired by street poster campaigns (“wild posting”) seen in the urban landscape, Lin applies the images in a cumulative, irregular manner, breaking up the formal museum environment and inviting casual street engagement. Surrounding visitors and immersing themselves in these images, Lin invites us to reflect more deeply on her paradoxical role—one that is both central and incidental—in the history of the museum’s Great Hall.
Pentachrome was conceived by the artist in consultation with Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, 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’s website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and others Twitter with the hashtag #MetPentachrome.
About the artist
The artist Michael Lin (*1964, Tokyo) lives and works in Taipei and Brussels. He orchestrates monumental painting installations that reimagine and reconfigure public spaces, using patterns and designs borrowed from traditional Taiwanese textiles in his work. Lin’s work has been exhibited at major institutions and international biennials around the world, including The Auckland Triennial and 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 the Jumex Museum, Mexico City.