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Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8Th-14th Century (Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology, No 48)



This book presents a survey of Chinese painting from the eighth to the 14th century, a period during which the nature of China's pictorial art changed dramatically. Illustrated by works in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the author begins by describing the advent toward the end of the Bronze Age of figural representation in Chinese art, and next traces the development of Chinese landscape painting from the third to the tenth century. He then moves on to discuss the art of the Sung dynasty, when the imperial government was increasingly absolute and repressive. In this period artists shifted from a realistic rendition of nature to more symbolic representation of single flowers, rocks and trees. By the time of the Yuan dynasty, following the Mongol conquest of 1279, objective representation in art had been replaced by imagery that drew on the artist's inner response to his world. Because it was believed that the meaning of a painted subject, made complex by personal and symbolic associations, could no longer be expressed without language, the painter began to inscribe poems and incorporate calligraphy in his works, the multiple relationships among word, image and calligraphy forming the basis of a new art. At this stage Chinese art entered its richest and most diverse stage f development.