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How to Read Chinese Paintings (Metropolitan Museum of Art) Paperback – 17 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (17 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300141874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300141870
  • Product Dimensions: 30.5 x 23.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`If you ever wished you could do an "Introduction to Chinese Painting" course ... then you should take a look.' -- Marion Boddy-Evans, About.com, 16th December 2008

About the Author

Maxwell K. Hearn is Douglas Dillon Curator, Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doreen Robertson on 19 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is aptly titled. It gives the necessary help with the language of these paintings. Each painting carries so much meaning beyond that which it seems to represent.. These meanings are explained lucidly and placed in the context of history. It has fulfilled a need in my life to start to understand this important art form.
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By Helen on 24 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent reference book for beginners to Chinese Art...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Good pictures, but don't expect to learn more about reading Chinese Paintings 2 Nov. 2008
By Lao Chuang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought the soft cover edition of the book. At $16.50 (after discount), I feel it's a good buy. The book is produced in a large format, and the paintings are reproduced superbly on good quality paper. There are 36 works (mostly paintings but also a few calligraphic scrolls) gleaned from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The earliest work is by Han Gan (active 742-56) and the last by Gong Xian (1619-1689). Most of the artists are represented by a single scroll, with the exceptions of Ni Zan and Zhao Mengfu, who have two and three works on display respectively. The paintings and calligraphy are first presented in its full format, with subsequent reproductions of close-ups to show details.

The text, however, is disappointing. It's written mostly in a dry, academic style, and it hardly points the way to a deeper reading of the works of art. Most of the time it merely describes what's in the picture. Buy the book to feast on its sumptuously reproduced scrolls but look elsewhere to learn how to read Chinese paintings.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Extremely shallow text 1 Mar. 2012
By Jackal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Pretty decent quality paper and print. However, don't expect to learn how to read Chinese paintings. Most pages are 80% pictures, 15% blank, and 5% text. This is totally unacceptable given the title of the book.

Since the book showcases few paintings, I would have expected them to be discussed in detail and their symbolism explained to a Western audience. Sure there are a few tidbits of information, but most of it is useless. One examples: "These Chinese characters have heavy horizontal strokes." What inferior mind would make such a comment without explaining the significance of heavy horizontal strokes?

It is not easy to find any good book if you want to learn more about Chinese traditional paintings. This book is worth two stars, but since the title is totally wrong for the content I will give the book only one star.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Makes a delightful initiation into Chinese Painting, quality blowups of show details usually lost in other books in this trail 13 Aug. 2012
By AgogoLive - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A meander through a trail of "selected snapshots" taken through Chinese brush painting history. Not a treatise or overview but a walk in the park. Nevertheless a delightful initiation into Chinese Painting, quality prints magnified to show details usually lost in other books.

Although this book covers only 36 works, the magnified templates is rare in that many books on Chinese Painting tend to lose the details by seeking to fit the entire painting onto the page. Here we see blow ups of Qu Ding's Summer Mountains for example, we are treated with two large extracts from the piece with enough detail to perhaps attempt to "interpret the story" or contemplate on what the artist was trying to convey in his painting. Brushstrokes employed in these sections can also be clearly seen.

Perhaps scholars may find the notes insufficient depth but I have really enjoyed the meander through the centuries' offerings (no doubt not comprehensive) nevertheless and interesting exercise, learning about how the times had evolved the art of ink painting and learning a little about the artists themselves.

Selected text and calligraphy is given some coverage.

Would be complete if Wang Ximeng's A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains is included but of course it isn't as it resides with the Beijing Museum.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Delightful Book! 23 Jan. 2010
By J. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book really fills a gap for people like me who enjoy Chinese art but have not known what the symbolism is all about. While it is a strenuous read in some parts, it is enlightening.
very nice introduction to Chinese painting 26 Feb. 2014
By Steven R. Severance - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never really gotten Chinese painting before. This book with few selections and good details is a really nice way to start seeing in Chinese. I am so glad I bouht it.
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