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The Chinese Art Bookby Keith Pratt
Synopses & Reviews
The Chinese Art Book is a beautifully packaged, authoritative, and unprecedented overview of Chinese art from its earliest dynasties to the contemporary generation of artists enlivening today's art world. 300 works represent every form of Chinese visual art, including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, figurines, jade, bronze, gold and silver, photography, video, installation, and performance art.
Full of surprises for readers of all levels, The Chinese Art Book breaks new ground by pairing works that speak to one another in unexpected ways, enlightening historical, stylistic and cultural connections. Concise descriptive essays place each work in context, while cross-references lead the reader on a fascinating journey through Chinese art history.
The Chinese Art Book features an introductory essay by Colin Mackenzie, Senior Curator of Chinese Art at the Nelson-Akins Museum of Art, along with an accessible summary of Chinese political and cultural history, a comprehensive glossary defining technical terms, and an illustrated timeline.
"Taking on a dauntingly vast topic, this book attempts to survey discrete images and historical contexts from the long history of Chinese art while maintaining threads of cohesion. China is widely considered the oldest extant civilization, and the visual arts that emerged from Chinese cultures remained intricately entwined with their attendant politics, spiritualties, and material realities. Rather than organize this immense visual history along chronology or medium, the authors present the generously reproduced images in suggestive pairings on opposing pages, each work receiving its own page and a brief contextualization. The result reads like a coffee table book with academic heft. In a more pointed set, Liu Chunhua's romanticized painting of Mao Zedong is across from a Qin dynasty Terracotta Warrior, one of thousands of life-sized figures buried at an emperor's tomb. Elsewhere, contemporary artist Gu Dexin's burnt plastic sculpture is presented alongside a 16th century hand scroll, the two linked more imagistically than politically. Largely, the associations are left unspoken, and readers are able to flip through the enormity of Chinese art history without too firm of an editorial hand directing their experience. The necessary concision of the prose, the lavish beauty of the images, and the accompanying timelines of Chinese and world history all aid in creating a pleasurable, heuristic read, worth the distraction regardless of the reader's familiarity with calligraphic techniques or dynastic histories. Color illustrations. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Colin Mackenzie (Introduction) is Senior Curator of Chinese Art at the Nelson-Akins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Keith Pratt (painting and calligraphy to 1949) is Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Durham. Jeffrey Moser (plastic arts to 1949) is the Assistant Professor of East Asian Art History at McGill University. Katie Hill (contemporary art after 1949) is Director of the Office of Contemporary Chinese Art, Deputy Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, and consultant lecturer at Sotheby's Institute of Art.
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