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Running Down BLog

Running Down Blog


My title betrays already the main point of this blog, which is that I am running down markedly--in eyesight, in hearing, in sheer mental clarity. But the blog is more about how other people and institutions are running down, as seen by one who has lived long enough to watch it happening with dismay.


A recent Sunday NYTimes Arts Section (I didn’t save it, or record the date) offered, on inside pages, two reviews of exhibitions of schools of nineteenth and early twentieth century painting. One was of the Pre-Raphealite painters in England, and the reviewer withheld real approval, writing rather sniffily about how they were not as good as their contemporaries over in France--Cezanne, Degas, and the rest. The other was of an exhibition at the Clark Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, from their large holdings of American paintings, landscapes etc. by Winslow Homer and others. And this, too, was cool--I forget the reviewer’s reasons, but she/he withheld full approval. Behind both reviewers’ coolness was an implicit attitude of: Who wants to look at realistic painting any more? Representation--yuck.


And what was the front-page review, excited and enthusiastic? It was about a young artist, in New York as I remember, maybe Brooklyn, whose work of art was to visit the studios of some sixty other artists, steal one work by each of them, put these pilfered works all together and exhibit them as his own new and exciting creation. And the reviewer was completely uncritical--this is aesthetically rewarding, this is New Art!


Augh--to repeat myself: I have lived too long. (But not yet long enough to stop fussing about Dumb Things like this, and how they dominate the world of art.)


- Similarly, in today’s NYTimes, the news about an “artist” named Richard Prince, whose “work” was copying photographs from a book of them published by the photographer Patrick Cariou and using these to “create a series of collages and paintings” which he exhibited at a commercial gallery and which “generated more than $10 million in sales.” Cariou, very properly, sued him for plagiarism, and won in a lower court. But now a higher court has overturned that verdict and ruled in favor of Prince, who is now home free. We see a photo of him, wearing the self-satisfied toothy grin of the successful plagiarist.


Outrageous, unfair, immoral, illegal, against all one’s cherished beliefs? Indeed, it is. But what else can we expect in a society that rewards successful trickery, in which the stealers grow richer, the stolen-from have, in effect, no legal recourse?


- Conclusion to My Hyakusen Study. When I gave a lecture on the Japanese early Nanga master Sakaki Hyakusen at the Berkeley Art Museum on the fifth of this month, to celebrate the acquisition of two fine landscape screens by him that I acquired (from a dealer in Japan) and presented to the Museum, and to appeal for funds to pay for needed restoration of the screens--at the end of my lecture I read the final paragraphs from the last section, the Conclusion, of the English original to my book-length study of this artist. It was published In Japanese in three issues of the art journal Bijutsu-shi, and later in English as a booklet, now out of print, by our Institute of East Asian Studies. I promised my audience that the entire text of the Conclusion would be put on my website, under “Illustrated Writings,” for those who wanted to read the whole thing. It’s now posted there, illustrated with a few Hyakusen paintings chosen more or less at random. Those in the Bay Area may want to drop by our Berkeley Art Museum while the Hyakusen screens are still on view there, to see them, and (I hope) to make contributions toward their restoration.


Another lesson in Japanese. Recently Turner Classic Movies showed, as its Sunday night foreign feature, a Japanese film (not very good) starring Kyo Machiko (she of Rashomon, with whom I was once infatuated). It was a gangster film based on a novel by the mystery writer Edogawa Rampo. Ben Mankiewicz, introducing the film, did his best with Japanese names (he and Robert Osborne really should be coached--pronouncing Japanese isn’t so hard) including the name of the author of the novel on which the film is based, Edogawa Rampo. He didn’t mention--too esoteric a matter to bring up in a movie introduction--that this is the pseudonym of a 19th century writer whose real name was Hirai Taro. Edogawa Rampo means something like “strolling along the Edo River.” Why should a mystery writer choose that as his pseudonym? A question of Japanese phonetics, and their necessarily odd ways of Japanizing foreign words and names (matters I wrote about in a previous blog, the one about tonkatsu or pork cutlets.) Given the Japanese phonetic limitations--no consonant clusters, no l’s, no final consonants except n--imagine how they would Japanize “Edgar Allen Poe.” Now pronounce it, and--see? Edogawa Rampo. Clever, no?


- More About Words. What is it that babies do in their diapers? Or, when they are blessed with the right kind of enlightened parents, they can do without diapers, just onto the ground or the floor or into the gutter between parked cars? An article in the A Section of the April 21st NYTimes provides us with an entertaining account of the new “elimination communication” movement (would you have understood that as “no diapers”? Neither would I), and along the way provides a rich vocabulary of words for what it is they do. The author, Artemona Hartocollis, writes of the babies’ “offerings,” about how they “urinate” and “defecate” (the old reliable Latinate terms), about the babies’ “intimate functions,” how they “make messes,” have “bowel movements,” or just “do it.” Several times she writes about how babies have to “go to the bathroom.” I have news for you, Ms. Hartocollis: babies don’t go to bathrooms, they “go” (in the other sense) wherever they happen to be, diaper or none. Properly held, she writes, they “go on the ground, or behind a tree.” Diaperless, they can “poop on the sidewalk.”


What babies don’t do, in polite writing, is piss or shit. These are the forbidden four-letter words, of the kind I wrote about in a previous blog: everybody knows them, nobody uses them in polite speech or writing. So we have invented all these evasions and circumlocutions to avoid saying, in simple language, what it is that babies do. In my childhood we talked of “number one” and “number two,” and used those to communicate our needs to parents and other grown-ups. “Pee” was a commonplace, but doesn’t appear in Ms. Hartocollis’s article--presumably another NYTimes no-no. “Doo-doo” was a common term for defecation, “wet your pants” for failing to reach the bathroom in time. No one would have dreamed of an age when all that is avoided by letting the baby wear no pants, no didies, no Pampers, nothing to hold in the--whatever.


- What is Art? Yet again .. .. Returning to a very old subject: The Sunday Review section of the NYTimes for April 14, p. 12, includes an article by a Columbia U. professor about how the brain registers images, and especially those of works of art such as portrait paintings. He capsulizes German art history, naming Riegl and Kris and Gombrich, and goes on to tell us how the image of the face, whether real or painted portrait, is registered on the brain, which responds by recognizing the similarity to faces it’s seen before. He presents this as a great new discovery, combining science and art, and revealing at last how art works!


Sorry, Professor, that’s pretty thin. So we respond to a Beethoven quartet because the brain recognizes familiar sounds in it? You should go back and read something that really analyzes and explains how art works. My own choice for that, as my readers know, lies in the past: the writings of Susanne Langer, especially her Feeling and Form (1953)--for the philosophical underpinnings of that and her other writings, it’s her Philosophy in a New Key 1947). Her concept of “virtual experience” underlying the forms of art and supplying their expressive content has seemed to me most persuasive. But I am woefully unread in art theory, and write only as someone ill-informed on the subject. (If being ill-informed kept people from having strong opinions, of course, we would live in a much better world .. .)


- New GIPs coming


Since my former collaborator on the video lectures Rand Chatterjee in Vancouver has largely dissociated himself from the project since I moved down here, I’ve begun to work with a local filmmaker named Skip Sweeney, of Video Free America. He’s located in San Francisco, but comes over to the East Bay frequently, and he has three assistants who have begun to work on my videos. None of their work is ready to post yet, but a few lectures soon will be, and will be posted with the GIP, “Gazing Into the Past” series, which is made up of videos about later Chinese and Japanese artists and paintings. There will be a long, three-part GIP titled “Sesshu and Chinese Painting” which will introduce important new materials and new ideas about this great Japanese artist and his relationship to the Chinese models that he saw when he spent about two years in China. This is an especially fascinating case of cross-cultural transmission, an area that has always fascinated me, and the lectures will, I promise you, be worth watching. Also, ten or so that I finished or nearly finished in Vancouver will be posted as soon as Rand Chatterjee sends them here in a form that permits us to finish them and post them. So, keep watching, tell your friends, help me to get more viewers for this series.


- Finally: Two letters from J. D. Salinger, written to an admirer in Canada before he published his first successful story, have been revealed by that admirer and have created a splash in the literary world. I mention this--no surprise--just as an excuse to call to your attention once more my own “Thoughts On the Death of Salinger,” posted as Responses and Reminiscences no. 81 on this website, otherwise unpublished. In it I attempted an informed analysis of Salinger’s last published piece of writing, and offered a theory, on the basis of my own reading of that, about why he stopped writing and retired into reclusion--a matter that seems to me central to Salinger studies. Did anyone notice? Not in any way that engaged the mainstream media. My essay somehow wasn’t big news, in the way that the discovery of the early letters was.


But that’s the story of my later life, exemplified also in the response to my video-lectures: The first comprehensive visual history of one of the two greatest and longest-lived traditions of painting in world art, presented in an exciting new medium--is that an art event worthy of notice in the mainstream media? Hasn’t been so far. And if any of you, sympathetic with this old fusser, knows any big-media people who might take this on as a story, you will receive the gratitude of


Your Running-down Blogger, James Cahill






Big Idea Blog

Big Idea Blog


I am not a philosopher, have never pretended to be. But sometimes, in that drowsy period before I fully wake up;, Big Ideas come into my head, and I try exploring their ramifications, and if they seem promising, grab a card and ballpoint from my bedside table and scribble them down. My Big  Idea for this morning is: What if I’ve lived long enough to see the total exhaustion of really viable new ideas and styles in art and culture and society?

As a budding writer at Berkeley High School nearly seventy years ago I enjoyed penning satirical pieces about people who liked to do the “wrong thing” because it was new and would bring attention to them. This observation of the would-be innovative continued, and I chronicled in my comic writings the latest attempts to find “something new” to do in order to appear original. In my scholarly writing on Chinese painting I turned from admiring the self-consciously innovative, “Look at my new style!” scholar artists to lamenting the decline of the slower=building representational tradition, and the failure of Chinese collectors to preserve some of its finest products, so that we can see those only in Japanese collections.

The time came when it seemed to me that, at least in the eyes of lots of aspiring artists everywhere, all the things that were aesthetically sound and productive had been done too many times already, obliging them (under the rule they implicitly accept, that art cannot even seem to repeat itself) to do what I called “dumb things”--as in the sign I was going to hang in our art museum when I became acting director in the1970s, after Peter Selz (a major advocate and promoter of these “progressive” movements in art) had been retired--my huge sign, hung from the highest balcony in the central space, would read: “DOING DUMB THINGS AND CALLING IT ART IS OVER!” The sign was never made, and doing dumb things became the very basis of the most progressive art and cultural expressions. Now we have arrived at an age when the really successful artists don’t even do the dumb things themselves, they have workshops of assistants to do them for them--the Jeff Koons,-Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei types--who all learned it from the Great Innovator Andy Warhol--“I’ll blow up commercial images and reproduce them by silk screen and become famous!”--not even his own idea, as I’ve noted before. But New! And the full-page “art event” promotions in the Arts Section of the NYTimes are typically devoted to articles on the latest Dumb Things (under the rubrics of Conceptual and Environmental and Performance Art), with pictures of people standing around gazing at them and pretending to be aesthetically moved.

But a broader What If: Have I lived from an age when it was normal and respectable to do things that Made Sense into one in which all the sensible things are long-ago outdated and discredited, dismissed into an unacceptable “We’ve done that already” status, so that practices once outside polite mention are so constantly “in our face” that we (or some of us) feel the urge to say: All right already! So you’re gay (or whatever), do it and don’t keep telling me about it so much!” (Yes, I can write the rejoinder to that, about how much they’ve suffered in the past and how we now need to make up for that suffering…) An article in yesterday’s NYTimes is about the S&M (sado-masochist, that is) community and the clubs and bars that cater to them specially--fetishists, bondage and dominatrix devotees and the like. And while exercising my deepest feeling of tolerance, I still feel also the urge to say: Do it but don’t tell me about it, or try to turn it into mainstream practice! Let’s keep something in the shadows!

More broadly, coming at last to my Big Idea: What if I’ve had the misfortune of seeing in my long life span the transition from an age when Making Sense was valued into one that pushes ever further out into all the areas once considered beyond toleration: political opposition that permits no real compromise, ethnic hatreds that make the Somethings want to kill the Other-things, not just herd them into enclaves and ghettoes; a financial world in which getting richer at the expense of the less-well-off is not only tolerated (end of the Good Society) but openly espoused and promoted--not only by business executives themselves but by legislators and judges who have been bought by them. The benefits of recovery from our near-recession are going, a NYTimes article tells me, not to middle- and lower-income workers to raise their salaries or hire more of them from the ranks of the unemployed, but into the super-swollen bank accounts of the corporations and their investors. And we have turned, too many of us, into denizens of a culture of violence--my daughter-in-law Kay posted on Facebook an article about a legislator who carried a box-cutter into the state capital without a concealed-weapon permit, arguing that she needed it for self-defense. The same specious argument is endlessly pushed in our faces by gun advocates whenever gun control is proposed: We need our guns to shoot the bad guys!

Once that stage is reached, what can lie beyond? What kind of world can follow on an age of that? Like everybody, I want to live a while longer, but to watch that happening? Not the cheery old-age prospect I’d once hoped for, and confidently expected.

End of Big Idea (which is, for today, my proposal for the Right Answer to the “This is the way the world ends” question.)

- About Online Courses

Newspapers and magazines are featuring articles about the proliferation of online college courses, some setting forth the benefits of these, others (fewer) the drawbacks. My own feelings about them are decidedly mixed, but probably more negative than positive: I want to see them made available to people who have no chance to attend real college courses for credit, but I don’t want them to be thought of as really equivalent to a course that requires regular classroom encounters.

When I was preparing to launch my first, PRV series of video-lectures, I talked about them and showed a few excerpts at a symposium in Taipei; and an old friend and colleague who happened to be there, Don McCallum (who teaches Japanese art history at UCLA), made a point strongly that I hadn’t considered as much as I should have. College administrators wanting to save money, he said, might well use my video-lecture series as a course for credit, requiring students to watch them and perhaps take exams after them, thus saving the cost and trouble of hiring instructors to teach the courses. Recognizing this as a real possibility and a mis-use of my lectures, I was careful in my introductory remarks to the first one to say clearly that the series would not constitute an academic course and should not be misunderstood as the equivalent of one: a real course, in my opinion, requires direct and personal interaction between teacher and students of a kind that online courses cannot, even when they try to supply long-distance equivalents in cyberspace communications, examinations, etc. Nothing you get while sitting in front of your computer (or--augh--holding it in your hand) is a real equivalent to the personal contacts students have with good teachers.

But notice that qualification: good teachers, not just teachers. Part of the definition of a good teacher is that she or he gives personal time and attention, lots of it, to students. A good scholar need not be a good teacher. One of the super-stars of our department always insisted on Tuesday & Thursday teaching times so that she could take off four-day weekends, and she was not easily accessible to undergrad students. I always had the Monday-Wednesday-Friday times for lecture courses, usually in early afternoon so that I could schedule “extra hours” after class to show more materials or hold discussions. And I always assigned, and read, term papers. At one of our graduations, a graduating BA complained that he had gone through his entire undergraduate program in art history without ever having one of his papers read by a professor. That, I think, was shameful. I required term papers of all students in my upper-division courses; they could choose the topic themselves, within the subject area of the course and to suit their individual knowledge and interests, but it had to be discussed and approved by me at an office visit, at which I would deliver admonitions and suggest readings. And I always read the papers myself, and commented on them, sometimes at length. I still have copies of some particularly good ones. (And my two-page, densely typed handout “Rules and Suggestions for Term Papers” was a classic--it is accessible on this website as CLP 162.)  

Conclusion: Online courses can’t replace good teaching. But they are better than nothing, and as good as poor teaching--better than some of it. .

- Some Thoughts On (and Writing By) the Late Maurice Sendak

So as not to end this blog with the previous paragraphs--best not to finish with an end-of-the-world pronouncement if you mean to go on writing more blogs in future days and weeks--let me add some comments on the recent publication of Maurice Sendak’s My Brother’s Book, based on a manuscript that he never published during his lifetime. Stephen Greenblatt, in his Preface, recognizes it as Sendak’s quoting and reworking of themes from Shakespeare’s “Winter’s Tale,” in which he expresses his “longing to be reunited with his dead brother Jack.” The pictures are indeed, as Greenblatt says, more in the manner of Fuseli or Blake than of the Sendak we know best. What the text and pictures don’t give us, alas, is the old, lovable Sendak that one can read to and with his children.


I have already, in one of my Responses and Reminiscences on this website (no. 82, “Bill Crofut and Alistair Reid”), made some suggestions for books and records that parents who want to raise literate children can read to them, or play for them, from an early age. The bookplate that I made for my daughter Sarah (Fig. 1), carving it in linoleum and having it printed on gummed paper, depicts some of them: the Mad Tea Party from “Alice” at top, the Little Prince at middle left and Doctor Dolittle at middle right, and the Winnie-the-Pooh characters at bottom. I could have included, if there were space, Rat, Mole, and Toad from The Wind In the Willows, or some characters from Dr. Seuss.) Some of the Sendak books can of course be added to that list--I don’t need to name them, they are too well known to need it. But let me recommend especially, because it seems to be so largely forgotten, the early (1956) Sendak book Kenny’s Window. This was a favorite of myself and both my pairs of children, which I read to them early and often (Figs. 2, 3, title pages of “Kenny’s Window.”).



You can’t buy the original edition any more, it isn’t popular enough to keep that in print, but a smaller paperback is available. It’s a dream-story about a little boy alone in his bedroom with his pet bear, playing out his fantasies, challenged (by a horse on the roof, if I remember right) to answer mysterious questions. My daughter Sarah wrote a letter to Sendak telling him how much it had meant to her in growing up, how it had helped to shape her inner life. Unhappily, Sarah didn’t keep a copy of her letter. But she was a good writer from an early age--she won a school prize for her verses with pictures while still in an early grade--and her letter must have been heartfelt and moving. Moving enough that she received a note from Sendak, which she still preserves in her copy of the book (Figs. 3, 4). a note dated Dec/ 6 ’79 and reading:





“Dear Sarah, I never answer letters anymore, I can’t. There isn’t time. I could not, however, resist your letter. I can’t say why--except, perhaps, it simply touched me. Maybe that isn’t so simple. It could be that you make me realize--oddly, for the first time--just what my work can achieve. And maybe it has also to do with Kenny, my first, beloved child. (It is not in bookstores hecause it does not sell--unlike Max, Kenny is too retiring.) I think I cannot write so good a letter as yours, so let me just add my thanks to your thanks--and thank you for telling me as you did. It made me happy. If the Only Goat and the Mother Goose Theatre enhanced your childhood--then I am a contented artist. Maurice Sendak”


And that, as a piece of self-revelation from a very private man, is at least as moving, for me, as My Brother’s Book, and I offer it as that to all other Maurice Sendak devotees--especially those parents who, like me, have read his books and looked at their pictures with beloved children and observed how they can, as Sarah’s letter testified, change their inner lives for the better. I hope you will raise your voices so as to get “Kenny’s Window” republished in something like its original form. Sarah’s letter may be among Sendak’s preserved papers somewhere, and I hope also that it will be discovered and published, as it deserves to be, as the piece of writing that made this famous writer-artist realize, “oddly, for the first time,” the effect his books could have on the inner lives of children who read them, and on their difficult passages of growing up.


- So, an upbeat ending for what began as a downbeat blog. What we oldsters have messed up can in some part be repaired and restored by our children, especially if they are as talented as mine.

Proud, and cautiously hopeful, James Cahill

Mr. Sakaki, Galileo, and Me: A Blog of Threes

Mr. Sakaki, Galileo, and Me: A Blog of Threes 

That’s a strange trio in my title: How can I possibly follow it up, bring those three long- and far-separated people together? Answer: Read on and find out. 

My Lecture On Hyakusen. On Sunday the 3rd of March, at 3 PM (you can remember it by: 3rd of 3rd month at 3--three threes), I will lecture at the Berkeley Art Museum on the early Nanga artist Sakaki Hyakusen (1697-1752), about whom I wrote, years ago, a book-length study that was the first monograph on him. The lecture, titled “Mr. Sakaki and Me: Two Frustrated Sinophiles,” is occasioned by our acquisition of a pair of landscape screens by Hyakusen--they are on view in Gallery C, along with a few other paintings by him and his followers Taiga and Buson (three artists). Come if you are in the East Bay area and have the time free. The English version of my writing on Hyakusen is out of print, but the “Conclusion” from it, summing up my findings, will be printed soon on this website (under “Illustrated Writings”) for the benefit mainly of those who hear my lecture and want to read this “Conclusion” in full--I will only summarize it there. 

Galileo and Me. Does that sound like a pretty unlikely pairing, even more unlikely than the one with Mr. Sakaki? Indeed it is, and yet... In the article by Adam Gopnik titled “The Moon Man: What Galileo Saw,” in The New Yorker for Feb. 11 and 18, I read a passage in a philosophical allegory that Galileo wrote about the differences in thinking between himself and the orthodox Catholic churchmen of his time that sounded a responsive and congenial chord in my head. “’What can you trust?’ asks the character Salviati (representing Galileo himself), ‘only some fluid sense impression and strong argument. Therefore, Simplicius, come . . . with arguments and demonstrations . . . and bring us no more Texts and authorities, for our disputes are about the Sensible World, and not one of Paper.’ 

Translate that into my world of Chinese paintings and the visual/verbal controversy over how to look at those paintings and write about them, and we have: What can we trust? Only the sense impressions we receive from looking at the paintings, and the intellectual formulations and convictions raised by looking at them. Bring us no more [old Chinese] Texts and authorities, for our disputes should be about the Sensible World [of the paintings themselves], and not one of Paper--the paper on which those old texts are printed and preserved. 

Galileo narrowly escaped torture and death by recanting what in fact he knew to be true: that the earth moves around the sun. The Chinese texts on painting tell us that it was the scholar-amateur artists who did the finest paintings, the ones we should pay attention to, because of those men’s superior cultural refinements, and that we should judge the paintings by their individualistic and expressive brushwork, not by any technical or representational excellence. Will Cahill, who doesn’t believe those items of Orthodox dogma to be entirely true, ever recant? Don’t hold your breath. Will he be burned at the stake? Only metaphorically, thank the [figurative] lord. 

P.S. My daughter Sarah, whose knowledge and abilities and energy seem inexhaustible, read the above when I emailed it to her earlier tonight, enjoyed it, and emailed me this: 

“Hi Dad- Your Galileo and Me is marvelous, and the parallels certainly ring true.      

Another one might be that you both turned down University Professorships at Harvard, except that I just googled that fact to try to get more information, and instead got the Snopes website, a collection of false rumors and urban myths: 

“So maybe that one isn't true after all, but it's not completely known, apparently.” 

True or not, it’s an appropriate addition to my blog, so I append it here, with credits to Sarah, as another parallel: Galileo preferred to stay at the U. of Pisa (where he had the Leaning Tower to use in his experiments), I preferred to stay at U.C. Berkeley, in the shadow of the Campanile. Objection: “But the Campanile doesn’t lean!” Response: “Well, maybe only slightly.” Or, better: “Nu, so it doesn’t lean!” (The latter is an esoteric allusion to the ending of my favorite Jewish joke “Nu, so it doesn’t whistle!”--see under Reminiscences no. 85, “My Stock of Old Jokes,” in which this is the first item.) 

From March 6th until the 26th I will have three (there it is again!) house-guests, Professor Zhang Jian who is Librarian of the Art History Dept. at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and his two assistants. They will be listing (for Chinese Customs) and arranging to ship most of my library, several (three?) thousand books, which I’m presenting to them. This Cahill Library will join the Ernst Gombrich Library already there, which that great art historian directed should go to them on his death. (About Gombrich, my knowing him, and his association with the China Academy, see Reminiscence no. 76.) I will write more about this large project in future blogs. 

One of the distinguished company of extraordinary students whom I had the honor of teaching during my long years at U.C. Berkeley (mostly women--as I’ve noted before, the men tended to go where the money is, and that wasn’t U.C. Berkeley) was Jane Debevoise.


Fig 1.

I could--and should--write a long account of her during her years in Berkeley and afterwards-about how she went first to Princeton with a full four-year fellowship, and there was given some of my writings to read, and decided she’d rather get it “from the horse’s mouth,” giving up the fellowship and coming to Berkeley to join my mostly-unfunded group. Or about how, later, when the big Chinese art show at the Guggenheim was foundering because of Sherman Lee’s stroke, they had the good sense to call in Jane, who was then living in New York (Brooklyn), and she took charge, enlisting help mainly from former Cahill students and organizing the whole operation with such impressive success that they appointed her a Vice-Director of the Guggenheim, a position she could have continued in. But Jane had other, loftier goals that didn’t involve sloping spiral ramps where you have to stand leaning (like the Tower of Pisa) to look at the art. She later took her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong, and is now about to publish a book titled “Between State and Market: Chinese Contemporary Art in the Post-Mao Era.” I read an earlier version of this, at her request, and made suggestions for supplementing it, some of which she presumably adopted. I’ll write more about the book after I’ve read some of it. Meanwhile, here is a photograph of Jane lecturing (Fig. 1) and another that she sent me of herself beside Mae Anna Pang, taken in Canberra (Fig. 2). (I could add a lovely photo I received recently on a Chinese New Year’s card, showing Jane’s four children standing together: right after she and her husband had adopted a Chinese girl baby, Jane found herself pregnant with--you guessed it--triplets!)


Fig. 2

Mae Anna Pang (the third of the three women who are featured in this blog) was one of that remarkable seminar group of eight women who produced the “Restless Landscape” exhibition of late Ming painting and its catalog. She was also my first Ph.D., finishing her dissertation after she had moved to Melbourne with her husband, who went there to take a job. I have told, elsewhere, the story of how Mae Anna managed, all at once while in the hospital, to carry out a large-scale and excellent purchase of Chinese paintings for her museum from C.C.Wang, to finish her dissertation, and to have the boy baby that her husband’s family was demanding. A triple achievement: there we are again! 

How blessed I have been in my students! On that upbeat and entirely true thought I end this blog, finished in the early morning of this 23nd day of February, 2013 (don’t miss those threes!). as written by JAMES CAHILL







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