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Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (The Culture & Civilization of China) Hardcover – October 20, 1997

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Product Details

  • Series: The Culture & Civilization of China
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (October 20, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300070136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300070132
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

This book is a rare feat: seldom is an art history--much less an ambitious, 400-page chronicle of one of the great cultural achievements of the last three millennia--as much a delight for the amateur lover of art as it is indispensable for the student of the field. Written by three eminent specialists in the United States and three in China, Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting combines the best of both countries' scholarly approaches with new discoveries and illustrations of numerous paintings located in China and previously little known abroad.

Insightful, often lively discussions tell the story in six chapters, mostly dynastic, after briefly giving two "approaches" to Chinese painting. History, politics, biography, and training get their proper due and are complemented by often-detailed analyses of individual artworks. Close attention to the text and the 300 color and 25 black-and-white illustrations enable the reader to "see" these paintings--which are often constructed on different perceptual and cultural premises than the post-Renaissance and photographic images by which most Westerners structure their visual vocabulary. The glossary and other tools are welcome aids; the list of artists is organized by period and offers their names in the two most common romanization systems as well as in Chinese characters. And to read James Cahill on the Ni Zan paintings that may at first appear uninviting, or Lang Shaojun on the proportionally numerous 20th-century painters, is a real adventure for both the eye and the mind.

Anyone with more than a passing interest in one of the world's most esteemed art traditions--be they a Sunday museumgoer or a confirmed lover of the gnarly pines set amidst the towering mountains of the Song-period masters--will want this book in their library. --Joseph N. Newland

From Library Journal

In this major work of scholarship, six top China scholars from the United States and China present their varied assessments as well as a panoramic view on the development of Chinese pictorial arts grounded in Chinese cultural tradition and artistic practice. Through analyzing masterpieces from Neolithic painted petroglyphs, early paintings on silk, and landscapes by 12th-century literati to traditional handscrolls created in modern times, the authors showcase the riches of Chinese pictorial heritage. Comprehensively covering mainstream traditional Chinese paintings, they also touch upon often neglected areas such as women artists and works featuring common people, though folk paintings are not mentioned. The inclusion of more than 250 stunningly beautiful color plates and 75 black-and-white reproductions make this one of the most complete and best-illustrated works on the topic of Chinese pictorial art available to both general readers and scholars. The inaugural volume of a projected 75-volume series on Chinese culture, this is highly recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.?Lucia S. Chen, NYPL
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

They are wonderful big and colored pictures.
This work is chronologically done that covers a comprehensive history of the development of Chinese painting from prehistoric age to modern times.
For lovers of Chinese art, this book is a must-have in my opinion.
Richard C. Stclair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Richard on January 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book on Chinese painting with plenty of illustrations. In the Amazon reviews this book was praised for it's ample examples of paintings. I ordered this book and the pictures did not let me down.

But the essays written by five experts were a surprising bonus of enjoyable informative commentaries providing concise but comprehensive introductions to painters and their works. This is just the book for a new comer to Chinese painting.

One book hasn't made me an authority, but I now know about the southern and northern schools, recognize some Daoist and Buddhist influences on painting, and I've seen an example of Guanxiu's distorted visages, have wondered at Gou Xi's 'Early Spring', have seen Fan Kuan's massive mountain reduce humans to paltry piddling beings verging on non-entities, have appreciated bird, animal, and delicate plant portraits and Liang Kai's distinct images as well as many other worthies.

Some of the most fascinating and aestheticly moving paintings to me are Wang Shen's 'Serried Hills Over a Misty River', Ma Lin's 'Sunset Landscape' and Xia Gui's 'Twelve Landscapes'; all paintings that elevate emptiness to an integral part of the scene giving outlined forms a vulnerable lonliness. These paintings take Miles Davis's advice a thousand years before he spoke it "Don't play[paint] what's there, play[paint] what's not there.

After being introduced to some of the artists and their works, I wish more of their art had been included, but then what better accolade can an introductory book receive than it leaves you wanting more.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Regan VINE VOICE on February 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
With one exception, the essays in this compilation suffer from a problem that seems to crop up in many books on art history, namely the essays move from fact to fact saying little in between about the ideas behind the art. The exception is the last chapter which is on Chinese painting in the 20th century. I greatly enjoyed this essay as its author talked about the ideas and techniques behind the art as well as giving a fact based history of Chinese painting in the 20th century. I recommend this book for the last essay and also for the stunning full color reproductions of the Chinese painting that populate the book.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By J Osorio on December 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book cannot be avoided if you are studying Chinese art history, however, since each section is written by a different author, the result is not homogeneous in quality, readability, or helpfulness. It's a nice resource for images of Chinese painting you might not otherwise find elsewhere. Which chapter you prefer will vary according to which author's style you prefer. The book does provide a sort of timeline of Chinese painting from its origins until the Qing dynasty, however since each chapter is whole unto itself, there is a gap in continuity from one section to the next.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Yukikochan on October 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can only recommend this book. There is described the whole chinese painting history, about all artists, their paintings and so on. In addition to the descriptions, there are many illustrations, many famous works related to the painters so that you can connect the written facts with the paintings. They are wonderful big and colored pictures.
In the beginning of the book there is even a choronology, a list of all the emperors and a map of China; as in the back of the book there is a list of the artists assorted by period, the names displayed in pinyin, Gade-Wales, other transciptions and even with the chinese characters.
For me this was one of the best purchases I ever made, to get such a great book is nearly priceless. Right now I use it for my studies, but I will use it forever.

If you want to have an academic book of the chinese painting or just now more about them, then buy it!
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Format: Paperback
Two opening treatises on "Approaches to Chinese Painting" simply invaluable, rich with insight, one from an internal eastern perspective, the other, an external western perspective. Together the authors had hoped would provide a comprehensive 360deg take on the approaches to Chinese art. Loved them.

Text: 5 stars
Prints: 3 stars
[Reading on]

[First glance UPDATED]: Prints were disappointing at first glance esp if one is a landscape & xie yi enthusiast but the print issue could be alleviated by sitting under (very) exceptionally strong lighting eg 200W x2.

Book has a good supply (inordinate amt) of figure paintings in the opening chapter "Origins of Chinese Painting". These are big and clear. Great if you love figure paintings.

Would have preferred more landscape and xie yi art but to be fair this is art over 3000 years so, there has to be due distribution across the "genres". Most landscape prints herein tend to be blurred, dark and dull (on aged silk #85, 88, 89 to name a few) the light balance & resolution could be improved. (In Clunas' "Art in China" the prints are clearer, brighter and crisper.) Some frames herein have been reduced to obscurity - too small to see the details, others enlarged to blurness - and this, is a book on painting where visual is everything. Case in point Wang Xi Meng's "A Thousand Li of Rivers & Mtns" (#151 is tiny, minute - details are lost). Some on the other hand is enlarged to blurness, eg Huang Gong Wang's "Dwelling on Fuchun Mtn" (#156) and Li Sheng's "Farewell at Lake Dianshan" (#153) and Wang Meng's "Temple on Mt Taibai" (#165 dark blotches). These are just some examples.

A book on painting naturally requires quality prints for proper study, appreciation and critique.
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