Art: Splendid Spectacle

Seldom, if ever, had Manhattan's chill Metropolitan Museum employed such warmly seductive tactics. Its exhibition of "Costumes from the Forbidden City" (in Peking) was a three-part combination of Max Reinhardt spectacle, Diaghilev ballet, and Barnum & Bailey side show.

The real shocker was a supine human skeleton, varnished with gleaming gilt paint, dazzlingly berobed and tenderly laid out to impersonate one Kuo Ch'in Wang, a Ch'ing Dynasty prince. After that, it was scarcely surprising to see a ghostly, frozen parade of the glittering imperial robes from the Ch'ing Dynasty courts, 1644 to 1911,...

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