Old Leaves Turning
Literati painting of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties was created in, essentially, four forms: hanging scrolls, handscrolls, albums and fans. Many of the leading artists, both calligraphers and painters, set out to produce their most important and extensive works in the almost infinitely expandable linear format of the handscroll. However, it is in the smaller formats that the subtleties of literati brushwork are better appreciated and discerned. Many painters did their best work in the small, intimate formats of fan and album painting, especially around the late Ming and seventeenth century when personal and often introspective expression of poetic mood and etiolated sensibility increasingly prevailed. Paintings in smaller formats were overwhelmingly suitable for the spontaneous and expressive play of hsieh-i (intuitive rather than formally descriptive essays in ink tonality) work.
The selection of fans – the backbone of which come from the remarkable collection of the former warlord Chang Hsüeh-liang – include an extraordinary range of subject matter as well as of artists, thus the volume should prove a useful reference work for illustrations and discussions of some rare types of fan and obscure painters, as well as of classic and familiar materials.
Albums of paintings and calligraphy afforded the design concept for the publication. With the second volume, the reader might imagine him or herself slowly working through an unusually large and varied album of paintings by a group of gregarious artistic collaborators whose period of activity spanned the 15th to the 19th centuries.
Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London
2 vols., 180 & 200 pages, jacketed hardback
293 x 219 mm, 85 & 125 colour illustrations
ISBN: No isbn
Vol. I Fans
Vol. II Albums and Album Leaves