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Critical Perspectives on Classicism in Japanese Painting, 1600-1700

Elizabeth Lillehoj

In the West, classical art—inextricably linked to concerns of a ruling or dominant class—commonly refers to art with traditional themes and styles that resurrect a past golden era. Although art of the early Edo period (1600–1868) encompasses a spectrum of themes and styles, references to the past are so common that many Japanese art historians have variously described this period as a "classical revival," "era of classicism," or a "renaissance." How did seventeenth-century artists and patrons imagine the past? How did classical manners relate to other styles and themes found in Edo art? In considering such questions, the contributors to this volume hold that classicism has been an amorphous, changing concept in Japan—just as in the West. The authors of the essays collected here are by no means unanimous in their assessment of the use of the label "classicism." Although they may not agree on a definition of the term and its applicability to seventeenth-century Japanese art, all recognize the relevance of recent scholarly currents that call into question methods that privilege Western culture. Their various approaches—from stylistic analysis and theoretical conceptualization to assessment of related political and literary trends—greatly increase our understanding of the art of the period and its function in society.

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The Cult of Happiness

Nianhua, Art, and History in Rural North China

James A. Flath

History and art come together in this definitive discussion of the Chinese woodblock print form of nianhua, literally "New Year pictures." James Flath analyzes the role of nianhua in the home and later in the theatre and relates these artworks to the social, cultural, and political milieu of North China as it was between the late Qing dynasty and the early 1950s. Among the first studies in any field to treat folk art as historical text, this extraordinary account offers original insight into popular conceptions of domesticity, morality, gender, society, modernity, and the transformation of the genre as a propaganda tool under communism.

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A Designer's Decade of Contemporary Art in China

The Book Designs of He Hao, 2003-2013

by He Hao

Almost a Hundred Design Projects: Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, Araki Nobuyoshi, Lin Tianmiao, Wang Gongxin, RongRong & inri, Liu Zheng, Yue Minjun, Miao Xiaochun, Xu Weixin, Zhang Dali, Yang Fudong, Tim Yip, Chen Wenji, Zhan Wang, Yu Hong... An Asian Trend in Contemporary Graphic Design An independent print-media practitioner, He Hao has been working with distinctive and representative artists in the Chinese contemporary art world, including Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, etc., and designed more than 100 high-quality books and catalogs since 2003. Recording the current state of art development in China, his works have become an archive of significance. He Hao’s practice shows an Asian trend in today’s graphic design: the replacement of transplanted Modernism with a contemporaneity informed by the culture and lifestyle of contemporary China and the East. An independent print-media practitioner, He Hao has been working with distinctive and representative artists in the Chinese contemporary art world, including Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, etc., and designed more than 100 high-quality books and catalogs since 2003. Recording the current state of art development in China, his works have become an archive of significance. He Hao’s practice shows an Asian trend in today’s graphic design: the replacement of transplanted Modernism with a contemporaneity informed by the culture and lifestyle of contemporary China and the East. He Hao’s designs grow organically from the content. His sole concern is the discovery and presentation of the content, and his designs show no trace of his hand. This approach might best be called “essential design.” — Xu Bing He Hao is a designer infatuated with the dialogue between space and time. Sensitive to both the pressures of history and the endless transformations of all life forms, he remains in deep and focused meditation, a lone sojourner outside the commercial realm. — Bei Dao

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Dimensions of Originality

Essays on Seventeenth-Century Chinese Art Th eory and Criticism

By Katharine P. Burnett

This book investigates the issue of conceptual originality in art criticism of the seventeenth century, a period in which China dynamically reinvented itself. In art criticism, the term which was called upon to indicate conceptual originality more than any other was "qi" 奇, literally, "different"; but secondarily, "odd," like a number and by extension, "the novel," and "extraordinary." This work finds that originality, expressed through visual difference, was a paradigmatic concern of both artists and critics. Burnett speculates on why many have dismissed originality as a possible "traditional Chinese" value, and the ramifications this has had on art historical understanding. She further demonstrates that a study of individual key terms can reveal social and cultural values and provides a linear history of the increase in critical use of "qi" as "originality" from the fifth through the seventeenth centuries, exploring what originality looks like in artworks by members of the gentry elite and commoner classes, and explains how the value lost its luster at the end of the seventeenth century.

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Empire of Emptiness

Buddhist Art and Political Authority in Qing China

Patricia Berger

“The first complete translation of one of Candrakirti's major works into precise and readable English is a masterful achievement that might well encourage further collaboration between Western and Tibetan scholars. This is a contribution to be applauded.” —Journal of Religion

“Huntington's philosophical interpretation . . . is argued with force and clarity. It corrects (with panache) many of the misinterpretations of Madhyamika still current among Anglophone writers.” —Journal of the American Oriental Society

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The Empress and the Heavenly Masters

A Study of the Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang (1493)

Luk Yu-ping

Over twenty-seven meters long, the Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang (1493) is an important Ming Dynasty Daoist artifact from the San Diego Museum of Art’s collection that records the imperial ordination of Empress Zhang (1470–1541), consort of the Ming Dynasty Hongzhi emperor (r. 1488–1505), by Zhang Xuanqing (d. 1509), the forty-seventh Heavenly Master of the Zhengyi institution. This book uncovers the history of imperial ordinations through a detailed examination of the scroll’s transcriptions and the meticulously-painted images of celestial beings, as well as the influences of the Daoist leaders known as the Zhengyi Heavenly Masters.

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Enchanted by Lohans

Osvald Siren’s Journey into Chinese Art

authored by Minna Törmä

Finnish-Swedish art historian Osvald Sir413n (1879–1966) was one of the pioneers of Chinese art scholarship in the West. This biography focuses on his four major voyages to East Asia: 1918, 1921-1923, 1929-1930, and 1935. This was a pivotal period in Chinese archaeology, art studies, and the formation of Western collections of Chinese art. Sir413n gained international renown as a scholar of Italian art, particularly with his books on Leonardo da Vinci and Giotto. Yet when he was almost forty years old, he became captivated by Chinese art (paintings of Lohans in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) to such an extent that he decided to start his career anew, in a way. He has left his mark in several fields in Chinese art study: architecture, sculpture, painting, and garden art. This study charts Sir413n’s itineraries during his travels in Japan, Korea, and China. It introduces the various people in those countries as well as in Europe and North America who defined the field in its early stages and were influential as collectors and dealers. Since Sir413n was a theosophist, the book also explores the impact of theosophical ideas in his work.

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The Eyes of Power

Art and Early Tokugawa Authority

Karen M. Gerhart

"In her very interesting and provocative book, Gerhart considers a number of artistic sites as defining the Tokugawa 'political agenda'. Among these are the Ninomaru (Nijo) Palace, Nagoya Castle and the Nikko ... Mausoleum (the resting place of Ieyasu)." --Donald Richie, Japan Times, 23 November 1999 "As a title, The Eyes of Power suggests a role for art and architecture as tools of shogunal surveillance and suppression. In this book we find instead artistic ingenuity employed to provide a new establishment with a credible, even exultant, visual ideology." --Monumenta Nipponica 56 (2001) "Gerhart is to be commended for choosing a big subject and putting it together in a readable fashion. The book will serve diverse constituencies, including undergraduate and graduate students, specialists in art history, and those who want to learn more about how the visual trappings of power were constructed by the early 17th-century Japanese elite." --CAA.reviews

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Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art, 1600–2005

Patricia J. Graham

Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art explores the transformation of Buddhism from the premodern to the contemporary era in Japan and the central role its visual culture has played in this transformation. Although Buddhism is generally regarded as peripheral to modern Japanese society, this book demonstrates otherwise. Its chapters elucidate the thread of change over time in the practice of Buddhism as revealed in temple worship halls and other sites of devotion and in imagery representing the religion’s most popular deities and religious practices. It also introduces the work of modern and contemporary artists who are not generally associated with institutional Buddhism and its canonical visual requirements but whose faith inspires their art. The author makes a persuasive argument that the neglect of these materials by scholars results from erroneous presumptions about the aesthetic superiority of early Japanese Buddhist artifacts and an asserted decline in the institutional power of the religion after the sixteenth century. She demonstrates that recent works constitute a significant contribution to the history of Japanese art and architecture, providing evidence of Buddhism’s compelling presence at all levels of Japanese society and its evolution in response to the needs of new generations of supporters.

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Flowing Traces

Buddhism in the Literary and Visual Arts of Japan

James H. Sanford

According to the contributors to this volume, the relationship of Buddhism and the arts in Japan is less the rendering of Buddhist philosophical ideas through artistic imagery than it is the development of concepts and expressions in a virtually inseparable unity. By challenging those who consider religion to be the primary phenomenon and art the secondary arena for the apprehension of religious meanings, these essays reveal the collapse of other dichotomies as well. Touching on works produced at every social level, they explore a fascinating set of connections within Japanese culture and move to re-envision such usual distinctions as religion and art, sacred and secular, Buddhism and Shinto, theory and substance, elite and popular, and even audience and artist. The essays range from visual and literary hagiographies to No drama, to Sermon-Ballads, to a painting of the Nirvana of Vegetables. The contributors to the volume are James H. Foard, Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis, Frank Hoff, Laura S. Kaufman, William R. LaFleur, Susan Matisoff, Barbara Ruch, Yoshiaki Shimizu, and Royall Tyler.

Originally published in 1992.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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