University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art's 'PERFORMING IMAGES' to Open 2/13

The University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art presents Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture, a first-of-its-kind exhibition that examines the power that opera held over China's visual and material culture during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

On view from February 13 to June 15, 2014, the exhibition brings together approximately eighty remarkable objects in a wide variety of media from major public collections-including a previously unidentified album of exquisitely painted opera figures from the nineteenth century, two rhinoceros horn cups with detailed carvings of opera scenes, extremely well preserved woodblock New Year prints (nianhua), and a very rare and intricately carved wood and ivory Chinese lute (pipa). Together with a scholarly catalogue, the exhibition reveals how Chinese visual and performing traditions were aesthetically, ritually, and commercially intertwined.

"Performing Images offers an extraordinary perspective on a remarkable tradition," said Anthony Hirschel, Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art. "It represents one of the important ways that the Smart fuels collaborative, interdisciplinary discovery at the University of Chicago while sharing this intellectual energy with the broader public."

Performing Images is curated by Judith T. Zeitlin, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago, and Yuhang Li, Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in consultation with Richard A. Born, Smart Museum Senior Curator.

The exhibition is a key component of Envisioning China, a festival of art, film, music, conversation, and performance at the University of Chicago. The exhibition and festival open with a public reception at the Smart on Thursday, February 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

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by Barry Kostrinsky