Thursday, May 6, 2010

This morning in the Delaware Valley

This morning I originally thought of writing about what grows on trees (leaves, fruit, bark) and what doesn’t (General Counsel positions, significant quantities of courtesy and consideration), but I decided that was too mundane and too limiting, so I turned my attention to, the entertaining and visually exciting online art world newspaper, where I learned about the following British Museum exhibition, which sounds really worthwhile:

The printed image in China
from the 8th to the 21st centuries

LONDON.- The Printed Image in China presents for the first time highlights from the entire collection of Chinese prints at the British Museum. The collection is one of the most comprehensive and finest in Europe.

According to present knowledge, printing on paper was invented in China around 700 AD, making China the country with the longest history of printing in the world. About 120 prints will illuminate the history of printing from its inception to the present, and explore the role of the Chinese pictorial print in various cultural contexts. The show includes a wide variety of examples including Buddhist prints from the Silk Road, colourful images used in folk rituals and festivals, imperial engravings, dramatic anti-war images of the Modern Woodcut Movement and contemporary prints by artists that have gained recognition in the international art scene.

Divided into six sections and displayed in broadly chronological order, the prints are grouped under the headings ‘Printing and the Spread of Buddhism’, ‘Popularizing Elite Culture’, ‘Popular Prints’, ‘Printing at Court’ the ‘Modern Woodcut Movement’ and ‘Modern and Contemporary Prints’.

A set of wooden multi-colour printing blocks and a large imperial copperplate, each accompanied by a corresponding print, help to illustrate major printing techniques. Three spectacular loans from public and private collections complement the show. Among them the Diamond Sutra from 868 AD, the world’s earliest dated printed book. Furthermore, the loan of a Chinese court painting with a battle scene will be shown side by side with a copperplate engraving commissioned by the Chinese emperor in Paris. The painting served as the model for the engraving and has only recently been re-discovered. The painting and the print have not been exhibited before.

The Printed Image in China is the first exhibition on the Chinese print of this scope and approach. It presents some of the finest and most famous prints ever produced in China, brings an outstanding collection to a wider audience and celebrates the artistic creativity of the Chinese printmaker.

(N.b.:  The illustrated work is a detail from 1940 print entitled The Last Bullet by Huang Yang. The exhibition can be seen in Rooms 90 and 91 of the museum from May 6 through September 5, 2010. ) 

It would be great to visit London sometime soon.  It's one of my favorite places and no truer words were ever spoken than those of Dr. Samuel Johnson to James Boswell on September 20, 1777, when he remarked:  "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford".

Also coming up at the British Museum is:
Bridget Riley: from figure drawing to abstract painting
A lecture by Bridget Riley
Thursday 13 May, 18.30
BP Lecture Theatre
£5, concessions £3
Drawing from life formed the basis of acclaimed British artist Bridget Riley’s work as an abstract painter. Here she discusses what she learnt from it as a student and how it has continued to inform her practice, not only in the studio but also by providing critical appreciation and insight into the art of the past.
I’ve always loved Riley’s work.  Here are several good examples:

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