Left to right: Illustration from A History of Chinese Civilization (Ritual vessel ding, approx. 1050–1000 BCE. China, early Western Zhou dynasty. Bronze. Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B60B2+; photo by Kaz Tsuruta) and covers of Modern China Studies; 1616: The World in Motion; and Along the Yangzi River: Regional Culture of the Bronze Age from Hunan. (See below for larger images.)
Asian Art Museum staff have been busy on the publication front beyond our own upcoming exhibition-related publications such as Phantoms of Asia by assistant curator of contemporary art Allison Harding (with Mami Kataoka of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo) and Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy by senior curator of Chinese art Michael Knight.
Associate curator of Chinese art Li He has been particularly active. Her “Controversy and Uncertainty in the Study of Liao-Dynasty Ceramics: Beginning with the Collection from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco” was recently published in Latest Works on the History and Archaeology of the Liao-Jin Period (Liaoning Provincial Museum). Her presentation on “Interactions between Jingdezhen and Islamic Ceramics” from an International Symposium on the Imperial Kiln Jingdezhen, will be published this year by the Jingdezhen Municipal Bureau of Culture. In addition, she has been asked to be an advising editor in visual arts for a multivolume series, The History of Chinese Civilization, a project sponsored by Ministry of Culture, China; an English-language version will be released by Cambridge University Press.
Dany Chan, assistant curator for exhibition projects, recently published an article in Modern China Studies entitled “Painting Mao’s Words: Lee Chun-yi’s Exercise in Landscape Painting.” In China, the two art forms of painting and poetry have a long tradition of interconnection. The article presents a re-interpretation of this tradition by contemporary artist Lee Chun-yi through an examination of a selection of his landscape paintings incorporating the poetry of Mao Zedong. Chan argues that Lee strove to overcome the expected political associations of painting Mao’s words and move toward an apolitical, artistic interpretation of the play between word and image.
My own 1616: The World in Motion, an overview of the incipient globalism of the early seventeenth century, will be published in March by Counterpoint Press. “With a masterful command of facts and data,” says former Asian Art Museum director Emily Sano, “Christensen shows how separate threads affected one another, transformed discourse, and contributed to the development of a truly global culture fully four centuries ago.” In the judgment of John E. Wills, Jr., coeditor with Jonathan Spence of From Ming to Ch’ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century China, “With its stories of restless spirits and restless feet and its truly amazing images from Japan to Persia to Rome, this book will surprise and delight every reader and provide new insights into an interactive early modern world.”
Other praise comes from Evan S. Connell (“outstanding”), Lawrence Weschler (“a brimmingly generous intellectual feast”), Peter Laufer (“unforgetable”), and Gary Snyder (brilliant, creative”). Kirkus Reviews calls the book “well-researched and entertaining…. a unique reading experience.” It recently received a starred Publishers Weekly review. I hope it merits a fraction of these kind comments.
The middle Yangzi River valley is one of the cradles of Chinese civilization, and museum director Jay Xu somehow found time to delve into its legacy of bronzes in “Ancient Bronzes in Hunan: A Survey,” published in Along the Yangzi River: Regional Culture of the Bronze Age from Hunan (China Institute). Xu observes that despite changes in the style and scale of bronze production, the technique of piece-mold casting “ties together all regional bronze traditions across ancient China.” According to Holland Cotter of the New York Times, this book “belongs in the library of anyone interested in Chinese art research.”
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