Monday, November 3, 2008

The Deno Diary: Chinese Ink Paintings

In 1942, a Chinese culture vulture declared: "No art for art's sake."

Which just goes to prove that Mao Tse-tung was not only a ruthless dictator, he was a lousy critic, too.

Art for art's sake could be the subtitle of a luminous new show of modern Chinese ink paintings at the Norton Museum of Art. "A Tradition Redefined" accomplishes what every museum exhibit strives for: It dazzles the eye while subtly enriching a visitor's knowledge of art and history.

The paintings were amassed by Chu-tsing Li, a scholar credited with introducing modern Chinese art to America. As early as the 1940s, he was paying attention to art trends on mainland China. In the '60s, he taught Chinese art in the United States, and began studying painters from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In collecting work and championing artists, Li helped bring about an appreciation for contemporary Chinese art that is now reflected in its high demand among collectors and in six-figure asking prices at auction houses.

It is also the impetus for this traveling show, organized by the Phoenix Art Museum and Harvard University Art Museums, and touted as "the most comprehensive survey in the United States of Chinese ink painting from the second half of the 20th century."

Read the rest of my review at:

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