Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NYT - "Tracing the Path to Chinese Finesse "

Posting a NYT review of a new exhibit at the Met -- “Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997)." The review points to a "curiously dispassionate, not to say bloodless" feel to the work, but emphasizes that the exhibit's worth is largely in its revelation of method:

"... it is not for artistic merit that Xie’s work is on view. Maxwell K. Hearn, the exhibition’s organizer and a curator of Chinese painting and calligraphy at the Met, explained in an interview that the show’s main significance is in what it reveals about methods used by traditional artists. It turns out that the kind of graceful naturalism that Xie achieved in his best works came not from extensive study of nature but by tracing over and over the works of other artists on sheets of semitransparent paper.

If Xie’s procedures typified the way artists had been working for centuries, as Mr. Hearn said they do, then it challenges the idea that Chinese art is as deeply grounded in real-life experience and observation of nature as is commonly believed. Copying was the royal road to aesthetic perfection."

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