Friday, October 29, 2010

Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)"

Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Dwelling in the Mountains. Dated 1979. Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper.

Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)
February 6, 2010–August 1, 2010

Galleries for Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 2nd floor, north wing
This exhibition includes a selection of around one hundred and fifty works by Xie Zhiliu (pronounced "shay jer-leo"), one of modern China's leading traditional artists and a preeminent connoisseur of painting and calligraphy. The rare trove of material on view demonstrates how studying and copying earlier models were as much a part of Chinese artistic tradition as learning from nature. Drawn from a recent gift of sketches, calligraphic works, manuscripts, and seals presented to the Museum by the artist’s daughter, Sarah Shay, the installation commemorates the one-hundredth anniversary of Xie Zhiliu’s birth.

Xie Zhiliu received a traditional Chinese artistic education, which combined the two disciplines of copying the work of earlier masters and drawing directly from life. His finished paintings, like those of many other Chinese artists, appear to be freehand creations—the work of a master draftsman who handled his brush with a confidence borne of years of practice. However, unlike many artists, Xie preserved numerous copies and sketches he made throughout his career, not only building a unique record of his creative process but also revealing how a seemingly spontaneous composition could be preceded by one or more sketches and drafts. These preparatory works could also serve as templates, thus liberating Xie from the need to visualize a completed composition in advance and allowing him to concentrate instead on making each of his brushstrokes as dynamic and fluid as possible. Juxtaposing Xie’s preparatory sketches with images of earlier models and with his own finished works, this exhibition seeks to demonstrate not only how traditional Chinese masters developed their personal styles through a combination of careful imitation and creative adaptation but also how they often relied on preparatory drawings to practice their craft—in a manner not dissimilar to that of Western painters.

More About the Artist
Xie Zhiliu was a native of Changzhou, a city with a strong tradition of bird-and-flower painting, a genre in which Xie excelled. Moving to Chongqing to escape the Japanese occupation in 1937, he became a close friend of a renowned painter Zhang Daqian (1899–1983), who introduced him to the Buddhist cave murals of the Silk Road oasis of Dunhuang. After the war, he became an
advisor and preeminent connoisseur on painting and calligraphy for the Shanghai Museum as well as a professor of painting. Thanks to his access to the rich holdings of the museum, Xie expanded his style through the study of Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasty painting, a topic on which he published. Between 1983 and 1990 he led a team of scholars in evaluating the collections of China’s leading cultural institutions, which resulted in a twenty-four-volume illustrated index of more than seventy thousand paintings and calligraphies.

About the Installation
The installation is organized thematically. The first two galleries, entitled "Tracing the Past," present Xie’s early studies of figures, narratives, and bird-and-flower paintings of the Song dynasty (960–1279). His sketches of Buddhist figures based on his study of the Dunhuang murals are also included here. The artist’s admiration for the master painter Chen Hongshou (1599–1652) and other bird-and-flower specialists is highlighted in the subsequent two galleries with a number of precise copies of these artists' paintings. How Xie also learned directly from nature is illustrated in the fifth gallery. Featured are a number of studies of flowers and fruit as well as two albums of landscape sketches, ca
pturing naturalistic compositions defined largely by contour lines with little interior modeling. Also on view in this section is a pencil sketch of narcissus visualized from different angles that show how his lines were slowly formed with numerous adjustments and corrections. Xie’s appreciation for cursive calligraphy is the focus of the next section. A manuscript called Poems of Inner Mongolia (1961) as well as several copies including Select Characters from Huaisu’s Autobiography (1969) and Notes on Zhang Xu dated to the late 1960s document Xie’s conscientious study of ancient models in the Shanghai Museum collection. The section concludes with Five Poems (1990), reflecting the abiding influence of these earlier masters. The final gallery features Xie’s integration of naturalism and stylization in his late years. Among the works on view is a brightly colored album called Views of Yosemite National Park, California (1994), which the artist made with his wife, the painter Chen Peiqiu (b. 1923), in 1994. Complementing the installation is a display of some of the artist's seals, which constitute a valuable anthology of the seal carver's art by many of the leading practitioners of the late twentieth century. This group also highlights one of the most innovative and important forms of calligraphy to be practiced since the late Ming dynasty.


East Meets the American West
Xie Zhiliu's Yosemite images.

By Morgan Meis

In the last room of the exhibit, where something special happens. In 1994, Xie traveled to Yosemite National Park with his painter wife Chen Peiqiu. There, he produced a series of paintings that are a testimonial to cognitive dissonance. He paints the mountains and trees of Yosemite, but they look vaguely Chinese. The vegetation looks sparse, like in the drawings that accompany Chinese calligraphy. The stones of Yosemite rise up with the stalagmite abruptness we expect of Chinese art.

Stunning as the natural formations are, they've also been fully co-opted into human culture. Chinese artists, generation after generation, managed to create what they were looking at almost as much as they simply recorded it. They forced us, in their paintings and drawings, to pick out the landscape in particular ways, to value certain kinds of rocks and outcroppings more highly than others. Over the centuries, they became connoisseurs. Over the centuries, it became impossible to see that particular natural phenomenon through the eyes of anything but the tradition.

And that's what happened to Xie Zhiliu in Yosemite. He painted a Yosemite that simply doesn't exist, at least to those of us on the Western side of the globe. Actually, his Yosemite doesn't exist on the Eastern side, either. It exists only in Xie Zhiliu's head. His Chinese tradition was in a locked battle with a landscape he didn't recognize. Yosemite doesn't look like the mountains of China. The stone is different. The mountains came forth because of different geological forces. The foliage is made up of different species of tree and shrub. Reality doesn't show itself in Yosemite the same way it shows itself in Taishan Mountain. The paintings Xie Zhiliu made in Yosemite don't reconcile that confusion, they simply record it. One of the deepest ongoing philosophical and aesthetic problems is whether we have access to reality as it really is, or whether we always see our own version of it. In no ways can Xie Zhiliu's Yosemite paintings be said to solve this problem. They do reflect, however, what a wonderfully, productively, beautiful problem it is and, I suppose, ever shall be. • 29 April 2010{E2FABDCA-CC56-4EA7-A4B2-A2CC2837E880}

'Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)' @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Celestial Maiden. Datable to 1942–43. Drawing mounted as a hanging scroll, ink and color on paper.


Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1599–1652), Landscapes and Flowers. Late Ming–early Qing dynasty, first half of the 17th century. Twelve folding fans mounted as album leaves. Ink and color on gold paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Butterfly, Bamboo, Flowers, and Rock, after Chen Hongshou. Datable to the 1930s. Drawing; pencil and ink on tracing paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Bird on a Branch of Blossoming Plum, after Chen Hongshou. Datable to the 1930s. Drawing; ink and pencil on tracing paper.


Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1599–1652) and Chen Zi (Chinese, 1634–1711), Figures, Flowers and Landscapes. Late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty, 17th–18th century, one leaf dated 1627. Album of eleven paintings; ink and color on silk.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Landscape in the Style of Liang Kai. Dated 1980. Hanging scroll; ink on paper


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Studies of Boats and Figures. Datable to the 1930s. Drawing; pencil and ink on paper. Overall (b): 13 3/8 x 20 1/2 in. (34 x 52 cm) 2005.411.13 © 2000–2010 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Boats. Datable to the 1930s. Drawing; ink on transparent paper. Overall: 29 15/16 x 20 in. (76 x 50.8 cm) 2005.411.52 © 2000–2010 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Bodhidharma and Luohans, after Liang Kai's "Eight Eminent Monks", 20th century. Drawing; ink on tracing paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Gentleman Seated at a Stone Table, after Chen Hongshou. Datable to the 1930s. Drawing; ink on transparent paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Pensive Bodhisattvas, 20th century. Drawing; ink on transparent paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Heads, Datable to 1943 (detail). Drawing; ink on glassine paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Hands and Donor Figure. Datable to 1942–43. Drawing; ink on transparent paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Lady with an Elephant and Guardian with a Horse. Datable to 1942–43. Drawing; ink on transparent paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Leaf Studies, ca. 1930s. Sheet from a sketchbook; pencil and ink on paper. Overall (sketchbook closed):


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Bamboo, ca. 1930s. Sheet from a sketchbook; pencil and ink on paper. Overall (sketchbook closed):


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Study of a Bee, ca. 1930s. Sheet from a sketchbook; pencil on paper. Overall (sketchbook closed):


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Hawk, 20th century. Drawing; ink on paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Studies of a Bird, 20th century. Drawing; ink and pencil on paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Goose, 20th century. Drawing; ink on tracing paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Ducks and Blossoming Branches, 20th century. Drawing; pencil and ink on paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Duck, 20th century. Drawing; ink and charcoal on paper.


Xie Zhiliu (Chinese, 1910–1997), Birds' Feet, 20th century. Drawing; ink on paper

A Harry Bertoia Screen Sculpture is Dismantled

A dismantled sculptural screen by Harry Bertoia lies on the second floor of 510 Fifth Ave.

During the period around 1950 he designed five wire pieces that became known as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll. Among them the famous 'Diamond chair' a fluid, sculptural form made from a molded lattice work of welded steel.

In Bertoia's own words, "If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them."

Bertoia's "Textured Screen" caused much controversy when it was unveiled for the Dallas Public Library in 1954.

In the Yale Public Art Collection: Sculpture Screen, 1958
Harry Bertoia (1915-1978)
Location: Lobby of Davies Auditorium, Becton Center

Experimenting with the use of metal in furniture-making and sculpture, Harry Bertoia expanded the possibilities and concerns of modern art. Sculpture Screen is one of his so-called multiplane constructions, a series of uniform shapes welded together in a loose pattern. Five horizontal rows of golden rectangles project at differing levels from the three anchoring poles, creating a continuous undulating field. The work’s large size invites viewers to walk its length and observe the play of light at different angles on its reflective, textured surfaces. Sculpture Screen thus uses light to create the illusion of movement, unifying its broken space and prefiguring the increasing geometric simplicity and minimalism of Bertoia’s later work. Gift of the International Business Machines Corporation, 1966

From Arts Beat: October 22, 2010

A Bertoia Sculpture Is Dismantled By Robin Pogrebin

A sculptural screen of 800 floating metal panels by the artist Harry Bertoia is being dismantled and moved from its home on the second floor of the Fifth Avenue building that is now owned by JPMorgan Chase. The 1954 building, which Gordon Bunshaft originally designed for Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust, is a landmark, but that designation protects only the exterior of the building, not the interior or Bertoia’s 70-foot-wide, 20-foot-high screen.

“This is from Bertoia’s heyday,” said Russell Flinchum, archivist for the Century Association Archives Foundation in New York, who sounded the alarm about the sculpture. “Chase may own it, but it is part of New York’s cultural patrimony.”

Ann Marie Hauser, a Chase spokeswoman, said: “It will be preserved until we determine a new location for it.”

Bertoia, who died in 1978, is best known for his wire-grid “diamond” chair. The screen — composed of intersecting brass, copper and nickel panels — was commissioned for the building, which was noteworthy for its transparency at a time when most banks were built of brick to convey stability. The large safe, designed by Henry Dreyfuss, still sits prominently in the window.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sweater Deer - Cable Stitch - Rachel Denny

Rachel Denny is an artist living in Portland, OR. She sent over this beautiful piece she created called “Cold Comfort”. She will have more available in other colors and patterns. The deer are life size 24″ x 17″ 16″ and can be purchased directly from her at or at

Allegory of the Four Elements - Artist: Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden - Allegory of the Four Elements
59 Allegory of the Four Elements
28" x 36"
Oil on canvas

TS10 The Four Elements - Drawing
18" x 23"
Graphite on Paper

Mark Ryden - from "The Gay 90's Show"

Mark Ryden came to preeminence in the 1990’s during a time when many artists, critics and collectors were quietly championing a return to the art of painting. With his masterful technique and disquieting content, Ryden quickly became one of the leaders of this movement on the West Coast.

Upon first glance Ryden’s work seems to mirror the Surrealists’ fascination with the subconscious and collective memories. However, Ryden transcends the initial Surrealists’ strategies by consciously choosing subject matter loaded with cultural connotation. His dewy vixens, cuddly plush pets, alchemical symbols, religious emblems, primordial landscapes and slabs of meat challenge his audience not necessarily with their own oddity but with the introduction of their soothing cultural familiarity into unsettling circumstances.

Viewers are initially drawn in by the comforting beauty of Ryden’s pop-culture references, then challenged by their circumstances, and finally transported to the artist’s final intent – a world where creatures speak from a place of childlike honesty about the state of mankind and our relationships with ourselves, each other and our past.

Clearly infused with classical references, Ryden’s work is not only inspired by recent history, but also the works of past masters. He counts among his influences Bosch, Bruegel and Ingres with generous nods to Bouguereau and Italian and Spanish religious painting.

Over the past decade, this marriage of accessibility, craftsmanship and technique with social relevance, emotional resonance and cultural reference has catapulted Ryden beyond his roots and to the attention of museums, critics and serious collectors. Ryden’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including a recent museum retrospective “Wondertoonel” at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle and Pasadena Museum of California Art.

Mark Ryden - Incarnation
Incarnation (#100)
Oil on panel, 2009
Painting Size: 72 x 48 inches; 182.9 x 121.9 cm
Framed: 86 1/2 x 63 1/2 x 4 1/2 in; 219.7 x 161.3 x 11.4 cm

The Piano Player (#94)
Oil on canvas, 2010
Painting Size: 20 x 30 inches; 50.8 x 76.2 cm
Framed: 29 x 39 x 3 inches; 73.7 x 99.1 x 7.6 cm

Mark Ryden - Virgin and Child
Virgin and Child (#93)
Oil on canvas, 2010
Painting Size: 24 x 18 inches; 61 x 45.7 cm
Framed: 29 x 23 x 3 inches; 73.7 x 58.4 x 7.6 cm

Mark Ryden was born in Medford Oregon. He received a BFA in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles where he paints slowly and happily amidst his countless collections of trinkets, statues, skeletons, books, paintings and antique toys.

Artist: William Kentridge - Lithographs and crayon on paper in the Tate Collection

Dogana 1999

Staying Home 1999

Safer Tropics 1999

Terminal Hurt/Terminal Longing 1999

This is How the Tree Breaks 1999