Asia Society Museum
725 Park Ave. at 70th St.
Tuesday - Sunday through March 25, $12 (free Fridays from 6:00 to 9:00)
Asia Society’s “In Focus” series, which takes in-depth looks at individual works of art, is currently exploring a magnificent “Chinese New Year Pantheon” painting from the late Qing dynasty. The exhibition, “An Assembly of Gods,” identifies eighty-two of the deities in the seven-foot-high work on paper, less than half the total, from the Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, and other religions. The show, which continues through March 25, delves into the hierarchical structure of the deities, a bureaucratic arrangement placing such figures as Shakyamuni Buddha, the Jade Emperor, and Confucius at the top center; examines how the work, which is traditionally displayed on New Year’s Day, records the passage of time, represented by the Four Daoist Meritorious Officers, who guard the days, months, seasons, and years; and analyzes the fine techniques used by the anonymous artist while wondering why it was never completed. Among other deities in the painting, which occupies its own room at Asia Society, are the Peacock King, the Buddha of Exalted Virtue, the Black Tortoise, the Five Sacred Peaks, the Stellar God of Immortality, the Five Commissioners of Pestilence, the Gods of the Five Paths to Wealth, the Horse King, and the Earth Goddess. Also on view now at Asia Society is “Unknown Tibet: The Tucci Expeditions and Buddhist Painting” and “Masterpieces from the Asia Society Museum Collection.”