November 6, 2003

Passion for the Mountain

11-04-03-Ming-painting-Met-.jpg Here are examples of some of the images that inspired me this week. There is a similar agitation of line and mass that I see here. I had read the review in the NYTimes a month ago and I clipped it hoping to get to NYC before the show was over. I had opened up my Sumi ink work again after a hiatus and I ws looking them over shortly before travelling. As I was looking at the exhibition, I had immediate thoughts of how I can paint new work. Washes and clouds of alkyd glazes as an underpainting.... passages of wet in wet work, articulations and vivid heightening of detail.

From the review (NYTimes, B34, 9/19/03):
Nanching was the first Ming capital, before the dynasty moved its central government north to Bejing. When Bejing fell to the invading Manchus, remnants of the court and bureacracy fled back to Nanjing, which they maintained as a Ming stronghold for a yeat after surrendering it. What many Ming officials and intellectuals did not surrender, however, was their dynastic loyalty. Bound by a Confucian code of allegiance to their original ruler,
they regarded themselves as 'leftover subjects', citizens of a longed-for past. Some challenged thier new outlander overlords outright. Others retreated to monasteries or country estates, or took up nomadic lives."

I listened in a talk by who I take to be the curator of the Met's Asian Art Department, Maxwell K. Hearn. Apparantly, he described an artworld where artist and collector exchanged art within highly realized social moments. More like mementos than art-works. The ocassion of a reunion or a departure would provoke a painting, or upon viewing a painting, guests would inscribe a colophon of poetry on the margins. It was an artworld much different from ours today... in the gross measure. Perhaps, on some fundamental level, a shadow of this still exists.

Our artworld is very different from the artworld of antiquity. Indeed, when we refer to the artworld, it is a modern creature: consisting of artist, audience, critic, collector, gallery and museum. It's hard to say it ever existed before in the many worlds of premodern antiquity. At the Met was an exhibition of arms and armor. This, in a musem of art, but is everything within it is nominated as art work... (but is it?)... in an art world? WHen I hazard this idea in the past, some people tended to take umbrage that I was saying that the art of antiquity was not art... whereas I was saying that when we talk of an artworld, we think of something very different from the artworlds of the past whist we project this modern world upon very different, other worlds.

Posted by Dennis at November 6, 2003 2:22 PM

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