CLP 160: 2005 "Anthology Notes": notes on papers I've written for anthology to be published in Chinese.

Anthology, Notes

10. “Wu Bin and His Landscape Paintings.”

This paper was delivered at the first large-scale international symposium on Chinese painting, held at the National Palace Museum in Taipei in 1970. Several fine and remarkable works by the late Ming landscapist Wu Bin had come to light in the preceding years, indicating that he was a major, unrecognized master, and my purpose was to bring him to prominence (as I was later to attempt to do for several other important but neglected Chinese painters.) I persuaded the Palace Museum authorities to mount, in one gallery, an exhibition of all the Wu Bin paintings they owned (including a wrongly attributed “Anonymous Song” landscape, identifiable by style as Wu Bin’s work), together with three that I brought with me. A paper by Michael Sullivan in the same symposium, presented before mine, concerned the European engravings in books brought to China by Jesuit missionaries in the 16th-17th century, which were thus potentially available for Chinese artists to see; I suggested, with comparisons, that Wu Bin had adopted new “pictorial ideas” from these, to make his paintings more powerful and arresting. This was the first occasion on which a presentation of mine was met with angry reactions from some Chinese scholars present; it was not to be the last. While not being deliberately confrontational, I had recognized already that I needed to detach myself, respectfully, from certain traditional Chinese dogmas and taboos--beliefs that must not be questioned and subjects that must not be explored-- that were obstacles to the development of our field of study.

5. "Style as Idea in Ming Ch'ing Painting."

This was published in a 1976 memorial volume of essays written in tribute to the late Joseph Levenson, good friend and brilliant intellectual historian of China, who had died tragically at a relatively early age in a boating accident. I argued that Levenson, in writing a seminal article on “The Amateur Ideal in Ming and Early Ch’ing Society: Evidence From Painting,” had gone wrong by misunderstanding Dong Qichang’s practice and promotion of fang (creative imitation) as simple imitativeness. This was not Levenson’s fault, but the fault of us art historians who had failed to define, by using the stylistic analyses that we were trained to practice, how fang really worked, and how it was in no way incompatible with originality. My point was that different disciplines depended in some part on each other’s formulations, so that lapses by art historians could lead to misapprehensions by others. I went on to attempt an early, tentative discussion of how painting styles could be linked to historical and intellectual issues; in it I made assertions about matters on which I would later change my mind, so it should not be read as my final thoughts on those matters.

8. “Tang Yin and Wen Zhengming as Artist Types: A Reconsideration.”

In a paper delivered at a 1976 symposium on Wen Zhengming, and also in my 1978 book on early and middle Ming painting, Parting At the Shore, I had argued that Tang Yin and Wen Zhengming, occupying as they did different positions in Ming society, could not have switched places and painted each other’s pictures. Each worked as if within constraints assigned to him by his situation and his audience—in effect, conforming to established expectations. This argument, because it violated the popular vision of the artist as a free spirit able to paint whatever he pleased at any time, proved to be quite controversial. I returned to this problem in a paper written for a Wumenpai (Wu School) symposium in China, attempting to refine some aspects of the discussion without weakening the main thrust of the argument.

6. The Barnhart-Cahill-Rogers Correspondence, 1981.

After the publication of my 1978 book Parting At the Shore, I engaged in a long and sometimes heated correspondence with Professor Richard Barnhart at Yale, in which he challenged some of the assumptions made in that book and I responded by defending them. I sent copies of the correspondence to Howard Rogers, who eventually joined in with letters of his own. Because the correspondence raised and argued large methodological issues in our field, I got the agreement of the other two participants and arranged for it to be published informally so that it would be available to scholars and students, to stimulate discussion.

13. Shadows of Mt. Huang: Chinese Painting and Printing of the Anhui School.

This was the catalog of an exhibition of Anhui School (Xin’anpai) painting and printing organized by myself and a seminar of eight graduate students, shown in our University Art Museum in Berkeley and three other places. The main text was written by the students; I edited their writings, and added an Introduction, translated here. A colleague who spent a year in Hefei shortly afterwards took several copies to give to people there, and this interest in their local school by foreign scholars reportedly inspired the first international symposium on Chinese painting in China, on “The Huangshan School of Painting,” held in Hefei in 1984.

15. "Lun Hung-jen Huang-shan t'u-ts'e ti kuei-yü” (On the Album of Scenes of Huang-shan Attributed to Hung-jen).

At the 1984 Anhui School symposium in Hefei, I was invited to speak on the first night. Instead of an innocuous lecture on paintings of this school in U.S. collections (which I had also prepared), I delivered a slide-talk attempting to show that the famous album of Huangshan scenes attributed to Hongren was really by his older, less famous contemporary Xiao Yuncong. This was criticized by some as an impolite and un-politic response to the invitation. My purpose was not so much to shock (although it did have that effect) as to work toward a situation of fairness and mutual respect. Eminent Chinese specialists had recently been coming to the U.S., touring our collections, and questioning the authenticity of many paintings we had generally accepted as genuine; I wanted to suggest that foreign scholars should be able to do the same in China.

9. “Tung Ch’I-ch’ang’s ‘Southern and Northern Schools’ in the History and Theory of Painting: A Reconsideration

This paper was written for a conference on “Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought.” Most of the other participants were Buddhologists, and spoke about matters of Buddhist history and doctrine. I tried to reconsider Dong Qichang’s famous “theory” from a number of viewpoints and in different contexts, avoiding the assumption that it had any clear and fixed meaning—I saw it as, among other things, a self-serving rhetorical construction aimed at supporting the literati position in painting and discrediting the professional masters.

7. “Hsieh-I in the Che School? Some Thoughts on the Huai-an Tomb Paintings

The exciting discovery in 1982 of two scrolls of paintings in a late fifteenth century tomb in southern Jiangsu occasioned several excellent studies of these paintings by Chinese scholars. Behind those studies, however, and evident in discussions with Chinese colleagues, was an assumption I wanted to challenge: that the paintings could be taken as evidence for artists of the Ming imperial academy and the Zhe school, who were known for large, elaborately finished works, having also done smaller and sketchy ones as a practice of self-expressive xieyi . I offered a different way of accounting for the simplicity and sketchiness of the paintings (cf. #3, “Quickness and Spontaneity.”) My paper remains unpublished in English.

11. "The 'Madness' in Bada Shanren's Paintings."

This paper was prepared for the 1988 symposium on Bada Shanren in Nanchang, A controversy had been going on among Bada scholars over whether he had really been mad or had only pretended madness in order to escape political dangers (as a scion of the Ming imperial house.) Without being myself a Bada specialist, I accepted the evidence that he went through a period of madness (serious mental derangement) at one point in his life, and then drew on this experience productively, after his psychological condition had stabilized, to charge his paintings with deliberate aberrations that could be read as expressions of “madness.” These aberrations I attempted to analyze as departures from established practice: unbalanced compositions, violations of “pictorial syntax,” bizarre pairings of creatures, etc.

12. “The Painting of Liu Yin”

This essay was written for a volume of studies of Chinese women painters, and women in Chinese and Japanese painting, edited by my former student Marsha Weidner, who had earlier prepared, with others, a groundbreaking exhibition of works by Chinese women artists, “Views from Jade Terrace” (1988) with an excellent catalog. My essay was another step in my engagement, over many years and continuing to the present, with three interlocked subjects: paintings by women, paintings of women, and (the latest and most difficult, still somewhat hypothetical) paintings done for women in China. The flourishing of Chinese women’s studies among specialists in Chinese literature, social history, and other fields, with a rich and growing body of published articles and books, has given an important underpinning to these investigations.

14. “K’un-ts’an and His Inscriptions”

This was written for a symposium on “Words and Images in Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy, and Painting,” held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1985 to celebrate their recent acquisition of the Crawford Collection and to honor John M. Crawford Jr, who was already ailing at the time of the symposium and who died in 1988. In my readings of these difficult inscriptions I was greatly aided by my students, especially Scarlett Ju-yu Chang (Zhang Zhuyu). At this time I was trying to work my way systematically through the knottiest problems in early Qing painting, still intending to write the fourth volume in my “Later Chinese Painting” series, which would deal with that period. The volume was never finished, and will not be.

“On the Periodization of Later Chinese Painting: The Early to Middle Ch’ing (K’ang-hsi to Ch’ien-lung) Transition.”

This paper was written for a symposium titled “The Transition and Turning Point in Art History,” one of a series of international symposiums held in Kyoto. It was one of several of my writings (others include #3, “Quickness and Spontaneity,” and #4, “Some Thoughts on the History and Post-history of Chinese Painting”) that attempt to address the large problem of how we might formulate our “histories” of later Chinese painting, in our teaching and our writing. Straightforward art-historical accounts following a developmental pattern are obviously inadequate and even impossible for this later period. Scholars of the generation after mine are inclined to reject the idea that we need to have a “history” at all. I continue to believe that the project of constructing one that is loosely agreed on and accepted, as is its counterpart in western art history, is still a worthwhile project, if only because it would supply a more or less coherent context for understanding the individual works.

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