Kaikodo Journal V Autumn 1997
Among Flora & Fauna
Corresponding to the exhibition held between September 18 and October 11, 1997. 45 early Chinese and Japanese paintings; 45 early Chinese and Korean objects (90 color plates). Preface by Howard Rogers. 396 pages.
Includes the essays:
Richard Barnhart, James Cahill, Maxwell Hearn, Stephen Little, and Charles Mason:
“The Tu Chin Correspondence, 1994-95”
“Second Thoughts on Multiple Recensions”
Joseph P. McDermott:
“The Art of Making a Living in Sixteenth Century China”
Several of the problems faced by all collectors, connoisseurs, and scholars of Chinese painting are illumined if not conclusively solved in a series of letters exchanged among a number of renowned professionals in our field of Asian Art. Richard Barnhart, James Cahill, Maxwell Hearn, Steven Little, and Charles Mason deal with multiple recensions of the same composition in Chinese painting. The letters are not published here in full but were abridged so as to preserve the full context of the sometimes highly-charged arguments. Readers will be struck by the varying conclusions that can be and are drawn from the same basic set of visual facts and this in turn should encourage us all to examine our own beliefs on the relationships obtaining between aesthetic quality, verisimilitude, spontaneous expressiveness, and authenticity.
During the short period of time that has elapsed since our Spring 1997 exhibition, a startling number of other versions of one of the paintings in that show have come to light, making the ideas discussed in the letters of more than passing interest to us. Additional historical material was thus gathered and is presented here after the letters in an essay by Howard Rogers on the range of circumstances in which multiple ver sions of the same painting could come into being.
Implicit in some of the arguments raised especially in the letters are assumptions about the basic factors that governed artistic production during the middle Ming period. An examination of one of the most important of these, the economic context in which many Suzhou literati lived and worked, is made in an essay by Joseph P. McDermott, Fellow of St. John’s College at Cambridge University. Professor McDermott, who collects as well as studies Chinese painting, notes how changing economic circumstances led to a commercialization of the Suchou literati style, especially in the small-scale format of fans, and suggests how, in the 17th cen tury, Dong Qichang and other Songjiang literati responded to that crisis in values.