Monday, June 7, 2010

Flowering in the Shadows: Women in the History of Chinese and Japanese Painting

Edited by Marsha Weidner
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It is common to read the histories of the arts of China and Japan without encountering mention of women. I myself have been teaching East Asian art history for over twenty years, and have usually done so without ever discussing a single female artist. If questioned by my students, I might provide a name or two, usually that of Kuan Tao-sheng (1262―1319), the wife of Chao Meng-fu, the foremost painter and calligrapher of the early Yuan period. Basically, art historians have regarded the art of China and Japan as a patriarchal tradition, allowing for the occasional wife or concubine to appear briefly, but attending to the essential male identity of the East Asian cultural tradition.
That this long practice is false and unacceptable is evident. As this volume demonstrates, not only were there many women active as artists in both China and Japan throughtout history, there were women in both tradtions whose stature and influence should be regarded as central to the long vitality of East Asian art. Moreover, no evaluation or understanding of the artistic , cultural, and philosophical traditions of China and Japan is really possible without comprehension of the feminine components that have shaped and influenced the whole …
(Excerpt from the Foreword by Richard Barnhart)

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