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A Companion to Chinese Art

ISBN: 978-1-4443-3913-0
584 pages
December 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to Chinese Art (1444339133) cover image


Exploring the history of art in China from its earliest incarnations to the present day, this comprehensive volume includes two dozen newly-commissioned essays spanning the theories, genres, and media central to Chinese art and theory throughout its history.

  • Provides an exceptional collection of essays promoting a comparative understanding of China’s long record of cultural production
  • Brings together an international team of scholars from East and West, whose contributions range from an overview of pre-modern theory, to those exploring calligraphy, fine painting, sculpture, accessories, and more
  • Articulates the direction in which the field of Chinese art history is moving, as well as providing a roadmap for historians interested in comparative study or theory
  • Proposes new and revisionist interpretations of the literati tradition, which has long been an important staple of Chinese art history
  • Offers a rich insight into China’s social and political institutions, religious and cultural practices, and intellectual traditions, alongside Chinese art history, theory, and criticism
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Table of Contents

List of Figures xi

Notes on Contributors xv

Introduction 1
Martin J. Powers and Katherine R. Tsiang

Part I Production and Distribution 27

1 Court Painting 29
Patricia Ebrey

2 The Culture of Art Collecting in Imperial China 47
Scarlett Jang

3 Art, Print, and Cultural Discourse in Early Modern China 73
J. P. Park

4 Art and Early Chinese Archaeological Materials 91
Xiaoneng Yang

Part II Representation and Reality 113

5 Figure Painting: Fragments of the Precious Mirror 115
Shane McCausland

6 The Language of Portraiture in China 136
Dora C. Y. Ching

7 Visualizing the Divine in Medieval China 158
Katherine R. Tsiang

8 Landscape 177
Peter C. Sturman

9 Concepts of Architectural Space in Historical Chinese Thought 195
Cary Y. Liu

10 Time in Early Chinese Art 212
Eugene Y. Wang

Part III Theories and Terms 233

11 The Art of “Ritual Artifacts” (Liqi): Discourse and Practice 235
Wu Hung

12 Classification, Canon, and Genre 254
Richard Vinograd

13 Conceptual and Qualitative Terms in Historical Perspective 277
Ronald Egan

14 Imitation and Originality, Theory and Practice 293
Ginger Cheng-chi Hs¨u

15 Calligraphy 312
Qianshen Bai

16 Emptiness-Substance: Xushi 329
Jason C. Kuo

Part IV Objects and Persons 349

17 Artistic Status and Social Agency 351
Martin J. Powers

18 Ornament in China 371
Jessica Rawson

19 Folding Fans and Early Modern Mirrors 392
Antonia Finnane

20 Garden Art 410
Xin Wu

21 Commercial Advertising Art in 1840–1940s “China” 431
Tani E. Barlow

Part V Word and Image 455

22 Words in Chinese Painting 457
Alfreda Murck

23 On the Origins of Literati Painting in the Song Dynasty 474
Jerome Silbergeld

24 Poetry and Pictorial Expression in Chinese Painting 499
Susan Bush

25 Popular Literature and Visual Culture in Early Modern China 517
Jianhua Chen

Index 535

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Author Information

Martin J. Powers is Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan, USA, and former director of the Center for Chinese Studies. His publications Art and Political Expression in Early China (1991) and Pattern and Person: Ornament, Society, and Self in Classical China (2006) have both received the Levenson Prize for the best books in pre-twentieth century Chinese Studies.

Katherine R. Tsiang is Associate Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia in the Department of Art History, University of Chicago, USA, where she coordinates research materials and programs. Her research is concentrated in the fields of Chinese Buddhist art and Chinese medieval art and visual culture. Her work includes using new technology for digital imaging and reconstruction of Chinese Buddhist caves and she is curator and author of the catalog of the exhibition "Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan" (2010).

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“This volume represents the equivalent in scholarship of the coming of a new dynasty.   These analyses by the best of a new generation of writers will rejuvenate the whole field.”

John Onians, University of East Anglia, UK 


“This comprehensive guide to the arts of premodern China, the fresh thinking of leading historians, provides a major new resource for students and scholars at all levels.”

Craig Clunas, University of Oxford, UK

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