Friday, March 14, 2008

Anatomy of a masterpiece

Chinese painting
Chinese painting
Chinese painting
Chinese painting
Chinese painting

From the New York Times' review of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new exhibit, Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings:
From his terrace, the world is blue and green — mountains and trees — or almost green. Spring is on the way; the geese are back. One, then two, alight on the river, with more still invisible but close behind. Pavilion living! The only way. With the city somewhere down there, and nature everywhere up here, he watches mist rise. River meets sky.

The calm watcher is the fourth-century scholar-artist Wang Xizhi, father of classical calligraphy and model for living an active life in retreat. He is depicted by the painter Qian Xuan, another connoisseur of reclusion, in a 13th-century handscroll at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The scroll is in “Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings,” a spare, studious show that offers, along with many stimulations, a retreat from worldly tumult — the religious fervor, the courtly pomp, the expressive self-promotion — that fills much of the museum.
Anatomy of a Masterpiece runs through August 10.


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