Possessing the Past: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Wen C. Fong, Author, James C. Y. Watt, With, Kuo Li Ku Kung Po Wu Y Uan, Author Metropolitan Museum of Art New York $95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8109-6494-5
More than an exhibition catalogue, this breathtakingly beautiful volume, a major work of scholarship, offers a panoramic history of Chinese art and culture. Its 436 color plates and 190 halftones reproduce hundreds of masterpieces from the Chinese Palace Museum in Taiwan--artworks that originally constituted the personal collection of 18th-century Emperor Ch'ien-lung, and were transported out of communist China to Taipei after WWII. Among the treasures are eighth-century calligraphic brush masterpieces, monumental landscape hanging scrolls of the Northern Sung (10th-11th centuries), elegant porcelain, naturalistic flower, bird and animal paintings, and life-size, robust imperial portraits. Essays by Chinese and Western art historians sweep from the Neolithic Age's magical and religious uses of jade (third millennium B.C.) to Bronze Age rituals, the paradoxical rejuvenation of art under the Mongol conquest, Buddhist and Taoist influences, Ming scholar-artists' revolt against orthodoxy and 17th-century Ch'ing emperors' use of the arts as tools for glorification of the state. The exhibition opened at New York's Metropolitan Museum and will tour nationally. Fong and Watt are curators at the Met. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Hardcover - 663 pages - 978-0-300-08654-6
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