Kaikodo Journal VII Spring 1998
The Power of Form
Corresponding to the exhibition held between February 5 and March 28, 1998. 35 early Chinese and Japanese paintings; 37 early Chinese and Vietnamese objects (72 color plates). Preface by Howard Rogers. 283 pages.
Includes the essays:
“Where did the Nymph Hang?” (Ching Yuan Chai so-shih I)
“Returning to Brushwork: A Personal Exploration”
Jay A. Levenson:
“Reflections in a Western Eye”
“Metamorphic Imagery in Early Chinese Art: Long-Dragons, Feng-Phoenixes,
Gui-Spirit Masks, and the Spirit Journey”
“Notes on the Meaning and Function of Ming-ch’i”
The problem of multiple recensions of a single painting composition, subject of an essay in Kaikodo Journal V, receives additional attention in the present volume in an essay by James Cahill on how such paintings were used and what they signified in contemporaneous society. Writing at the top of his form, Professor Cahill focuses on artists and types of paintings usually ignored by art-historians to illumine significant aspects of early Qing dynasty painting. Further installments of his Ching Yuan Chai So-shih, “Jottings from the Hall of Gazing into the Abstruse,” are eagerly anticipated. Howard Rogers’ entries on Shen Tsung-chi’en) and K’un-tsan, both subjects of multiple recensions, receive further attention.
As Arnold Chang points out in his article on brushwork, almost every discussion of Chinese painters and painting mentions brushwork in some context without seeking to define what is meant, despite vast disagreement within the community of connoisseurs and scholars about whether and how brushwork can be used in judging quality and authenticity. successfully mediates between these opposing positions in his essay in this volume of the journal.
Jay Levenson, Director of the International Program, Museum of Modern Art, is also uniquely qualified to comment on Chinese painting. A specialist in the works of Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), Dr. Levenson was chief curator for the Circa 1492 exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art in 1991. In the course of choosing the pieces and arranging for their loan to that exhibition of global art during the 15th-16th centuries, he developed very interesting ideas on the differences and similarities between Western drawing and Asian painting of that period, which is the subject of his essay in the present journal.
In her essay “Metamorphic Imagery in Early Chinese Art,” Dr. Elizabeth Childs-Johnson postulates specific meanings for certain early forms and designs and discusses the evolution of these from the Neolithic through the Shang dynasty.
The essays conclude with brief notes by Howard Rogers on the function of mingqi burial objects, comments intended to stimulate further discussion on the varying contents of early Chinese burials and what this signifies for the evolution of early religious beliefs.