Art & Architecture

Art as History: Calligraphy and Painting as One


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Dec 14, 2014
8 x 10 in.
259 color + 49 b/w illus.
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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.

Awards and Recognition

  • One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2015