ART: TREASURES OF THE EMPIRE

RISING ABOVE POLITICS, A SPLENDID SHOW SURVEYS FOUR MILLENNIUMS OF CHINESE ART

For human happiness, democracy may be all very well; but for the visual arts, nothing beats 4,000 years of rigorous bureaucratic feudalism presided over by a lofty elite of scholars with a divine Emperor on top. Such is the lesson of the Metropolitan Museum's present exhibition, "Splendors of Imperial China: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei." Normally when those spavined cliches "treasure," "splendor" or "masterpiece" occur in the name of an exhibition, doubt rises: Methinks the museum doth protest too much. Not this time. In terms of sheer quality, this show can claim to be the greatest conspectus of Chinese...

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