Is It Any Good?

A small collection, here in the States for the first time, in partnership with the Shanghai Musuem.

Because LACMA is so limited for space (despite the fact that they’ve expanded, and are looking to expand again), there are exhibits on display that will get some hype despite the fact that they are very, very, very small.

The Ming Masterpieces from the Shanghai Museum is just such an exhibit. It takes up all of one room, but is worth making it a part of your overall LACMA visit.

Let’s be honest. There are only fifteen pieces in the whole exhibit. The room is so small that come April, LACMA is going to rotate some of the pieces currently on display out to allow others to be shown. You’ll be in and out in fifteen minutes, tops.

The painters here lived in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and were Court Painters for the Imperial Palace. What’s so amazing about the pieces is how contemporary they look. It’s like over the course of human history, civilizations from all over the world have struggled with representing the human form accurately. As time has moved on, humanity’s collective skill at doing so got better and better and better.

The painters of the Ming Masterpieces seem to have spring out of the box understanding the human form perfectly. The precision of these drawings is something to behold. They’re just using ink along with a very slight color wash, but they’re doing so to sometimes breathtaking effect. More’s the pity that there’s only a few of these pieces on display here.

There is a catalog of the Ming Masterpieces on sale at the Gift Shop. It’s not prominently displayed, but ask for it. LACMA published it itself, and it’s worth it to. Unfortunately, you’ll probably learn more from it than you will from the gallery presentation.

Again, that’s because there probably wasn’t any room to put any more information out there.

The Ming Masterpieces from the Shanghai Museum will be on display until June 2, 2013.


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
(323) 857-6000

Mon-Tue, Thu: 12–8pm
Wed: Closed
Fri: 12–9pm
Sat-Sun: 11am–8pm