Kaikodo Journal XXVI Spring 2010
Corresponding to the exhibition held between March 18 and April 8, 2010. 37 Chinese and Japanese paintings; 37 Chinese and Japanese objects (77 color plates). Preface by Howard Rogers. 219 pages.
Includes the essays:
“Comments on the Field of Chinese Painting”
“John Ferguson (1866-1945) and his Appreciation and Acquisition of the
Collection of Wanyan Jingxian”
The writers of the catalogue believe that each and every work of art is an aesthetic object, to be enjoyed on its own, very personal terms, but they are also artifacts, witnesses from times and ages long past that yet today speak of the original circumstances under which they were made, used, and enjoyed. Defined as “an object produced or shaped by human craft, especially ... an ornament of archaeological or historical interest,” an artifact is a physical survivor, giving us direct and immediate access to significant parts of a vanished world. Embodying clues to the means and methods of their production, they also make possible a reconstruction of the visual and tactile experiences that they provided for their original owners. Although closely scrutinized in the sometimes lengthy entries in this journal, the pieces one all remain first and foremost our honored guest.
There are two essays presented in this issue. The first essay, by James Cahill, Professor Emeritus from the University of California at Berkeley, was written in response to a invitation by Kaikodo to discuss something concerning the field of Chinese painting. He was asked to comment in particular on the changes he has observed in the field during his more than sixty years of activity as curator and teacher, and also for his opinion on the direction the field should be taking, the large projects that most profitably could be pursued at present.
The second essay, by Dr. Lara Netting, is equally appropriate for inclusion here because it focuses on John C. Ferguson, a very famous scholar, collector, and dealer of the early 20th century, one who dealt-figuratively and literally-with paintings and works of art coming on the market during the early decades of the century, just before and after 1911, when the Qing dynasty came to an end. Her essay illuminates the process by which paintings and other works of art came on the market in Beijing during that era and also how major institutions in the United States made use of Ferguson’s knowledge and connections to secure treasures for their collections.