Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (The Culture & Civilization of China)

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9780300070132: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (The Culture & Civilization of China)

From Neolithic era painted petroglyphs, early paintings on silk, and landscapes by 12th-century literati to the traditional handscrolls being produced today, this book recounts the history of Chinese painting over a span of some 3000 years. Drawing on museum collections, archives, and archaelogical sites in China - including many resources never before available to western scholars - as well as on collections in other countries, the authors present and analyze examples of Chinese painting: nearly 300 of them are reproduced here in colour. Both accessible to the general reader and useful for the scholar, the book provides an up-to-date and detailed history of China's pictorial art. In this book the authors rewrite the history of Chinese art wherever it is found - in caves, temples, or museum collections. They begin by grounding the western reader in Chinese traditions and practices, showing in essence how to look at Chinese painting. They then shed light on such topics as the development of classical and narrative painting, the origins of the literati tradition, the flowering of landscape painting, and the ways the traditions of Chinese painting have been carried into the present day. The book, which concludes with a glossary of techniques and terms and a list of artists by dynasty, is a resource for all those interested in, or newcomers to, Chinese painting. "Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting" is the inaugural volume in a series, "The Culture and Civilization of China", a joint publishing venture of Yale University Press and the American Council of Learned Societies with the China International Publishing Group in Beijing. The undertaking will ultimately result in the publication of more than 75 volumes on the visual arts and on classical literature, language, and philosophy, as well as several comprehensive reference volumes.

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Review:

This book is a rare feat: seldom is an art history--much less an ambitious, 400-page chronicle of one of the great cultural achievements of the last three millennia--as much a delight for the amateur lover of art as it is indispensable for the student of the field. Written by three eminent specialists in the United States and three in China, Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting combines the best of both countries' scholarly approaches with new discoveries and illustrations of numerous paintings located in China and previously little known abroad.

Insightful, often lively discussions tell the story in six chapters, mostly dynastic, after briefly giving two "approaches" to Chinese painting. History, politics, biography, and training get their proper due and are complemented by often-detailed analyses of individual artworks. Close attention to the text and the 300 color and 25 black-and-white illustrations enable the reader to "see" these paintings--which are often constructed on different perceptual and cultural premises than the post-Renaissance and photographic images by which most Westerners structure their visual vocabulary. The glossary and other tools are welcome aids; the list of artists is organized by period and offers their names in the two most common romanization systems as well as in Chinese characters. And to read James Cahill on the Ni Zan paintings that may at first appear uninviting, or Lang Shaojun on the proportionally numerous 20th-century painters, is a real adventure for both the eye and the mind.

Anyone with more than a passing interest in one of the world's most esteemed art traditions--be they a Sunday museumgoer or a confirmed lover of the gnarly pines set amidst the towering mountains of the Song-period masters--will want this book in their library. --Joseph N. Newland

From the Publisher:

Published in association with Foreign Languages Press, Beijing

The Culture and Civilization of China Series

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