Saturday, January 31, 2015

Style in Chinese Landscape Painting: The Yuan Dynasty Legacy

Where: Freer Gallery of Art

When: through May 31, 2015

This display is the second in a three-part series on Chinese landscape painting and focuses on the Yuan Dynasty.  This period followed the Song Dynasty, the subject of the series' first part.

One of the things I noticed when visiting this exhibit is the intimacy of Chinese landscape painting.  When you see American landscapes, they're often majestic, epic, awe-inspiring; these are drawn on a much more human scale.  I felt a much deeper connection with the works than I do with gigantic landscapes.  With those, I admire the art and the talent of the artist; the works are certainly breath-taking, but I can relate to Chinese landscapes so much better.

For what I think is the first time in all my trips to the Freer, I saw a piece that the curators had purchased - not a gift of Freer himself.  This was a painting done in the 1940s (so I knew it couldn't have been part of Freer's collection) that's a painstakingly accurate copy of a piece by Zhu Derun.  According to the wall notes, without the original to compare it to, you can't tell it's a copy.

Verdict: If you like Chinese landscapes, have a look.  I'm eager to see what the third installment will contain.

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