This richly illustrated book provides an anthology and summation of the work of one of the world’s leading historians of Chinese painting and calligraphy. Wen Fong helped create the field of East Asian art history during a distinguished five-decade career at Princeton University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Few if any writers in English have such a broad knowledge of the history and practice of Chinese painting and calligraphy. In this collection of some of his most recent essays, Fong gives a sweeping tour through the history of Chinese painting and calligraphy as he offers new and revised views on a broad range of important subjects.
The topics addressed include “art as history,” in which each art object preserves a moment in art’s own significant history; the museum as a place of serious study and education; the close historical relationship between calligraphy and painting and their primacy among Chinese fine arts; the parallel development of representational painting and sculpture in early painting history; the greater significance of brushwork, seen abstractly as a means of personal expression by the artist, in later painting history; the paradigmatic importance of the master-to-follower lineage as a social force in shaping the continuity and directing the subtle changes in Chinese painting history; the role of collectors; and the critical necessity of authenticated works for establishing an accurate art history.
Throughout the book, Fong skillfully combines close analysis and detailed contextualization of individual works to reveal how the study of Chinese painting and calligraphy yields deep insights about Chinese culture and history.
Wen C. Fong is professor emeritus of Chinese art history at Princeton University, where he taught from 1954 to 1999, established the country’s first PhD program in Chinese and Japanese art and archaeology, and served for many years as faculty curator of Asian art at the Princeton University Art Museum. He also served as consultative chairman of the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for three decades before retiring in 2000. His many books include Images of the Mind, Beyond Representation, and Possessing the Past.
"Fong offers a model that should encourage his colleagues to look again at the patterns of artistic relationships in the history of Western art, to explore what might be called a studio history of art. The focus on the brush stroke as both representation and presentation, at once mimetic in function and personally expressive in affect, acknowledges the continuing presence of the artist in the work, the creator of illusion beyond the surface whose very marking of that surface declares his individual creative responsibility. As Fong reaches out to Western art historiographic models for comparison, his exposition of the Chinese critical tradition offers an invitation to reconsider the values that have guided Western aesthetic thought, to acknowledge the centrality of the artist and the meaning of the mark."--David Rosand, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History Emeritus, Columbia University
Publications of the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University