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The Tao of Art: The Inner Meaning of Chinese Art and Philosophy [Paperback]

Ben Willis

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Price: 10.11 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Nov 2000
Whether Taoism is a nature philosophy or simply pantheism, it is clearly one of the world's oldest and most important philosophies of life. In The Tao of Art, Ben Willis brings together two widely disparate fields of thought, art and philosophy, and shows the unity between them in Taoism. A recent major exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago confirmed what Willis makes clear: that most historical Chinese art was heavily influenced by the cosmic concepts of the philosophical Taoists. Through a brilliant synthesis of the procedures and values of art with the inner meaning of the Tao, Willis establishes compelling reasons to believe that both art and creativity are imbued with a universal spirituality. The Tao of Art is a valuable contribution to art theory, as well as a benefit to readers interested in spiritual development and a broader understanding of Taoism. Well researched, with 18 B&W reproductions of beautiful Chinese watercolors.

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About the Author

As both author and artist, for Ben Willis Tao of Art was the culmination of creative life experience and a long exhibition record as a prizewinning painter. He studied at the Philadelphia College of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and The Académie Julian in Paris. He is listed in Who's Who In The East, and Who's Who In America.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you 16 Oct 2012
By Melissa - Published on Amazon.com
I want to thank everyone for purchasing and reviewing this book. Ben Willis was my uncle and on Sept. 21, 2012 he passed away of natural causes in his home.

His writing and his readers meant a lot to him.

Thank you all for reading.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tao at the Heart of Creativity 5 Jun 2011
By John C. Marshell Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. My first reading of it was itself a flowing experience, an act of harmony with the Tao that the author advocates. Subsequent readings and cursory reference have proven to be insightful and stimulating, so the book is a handy resource not to be shelved with rarely turned volumes.

Ben Willis introduces the reader to both Chinese Taoism and art explaining basic terms such as Tao, te, wu-wei, yin and yang and how they relate to creativity and artistic expression. It is not, however, a dry and theoretical dissertation. Ben Willis clearly has a first-hand and deep relation to the subject matter, and it shows with an elegant and direct writing style that is engaging and inquistive, thought provoking but clear in exposition, critical yet with an optimistic prejudice that encourages the reader to embrace a new reality and discard the everyday habits of rational thinking. Willis sees in Taoist philosophy an intuitive and mystical approach to life sadly lacking in Western living. In his effort to explain and promote Taoism, Willis also incorporates Western concepts into his writing that harmonize with his project, which are designed to promote understanding and structure, but not an embrace of dogmatic allegience. In many ways, his writing reminds me of Alan Watts.

"The Tao of Art" is a spiritual book designed to encourage intuitive thinking and appreciation for the Taoist perspective of the universe. Harmony, spontaneity, and the use of energy (chi) in artistic expression are prevailing themes. But these are not light glosses or superficial reflections. There is a sober depth to the subject matter, and Willis is not afraid to use science or include the ascetical and moral with his aesthetics. The author clearly sees the development of the "True Self," Lao Tzu's "Uncarved Block," as an important locus for the artist's life and fully connected to artistic activity. If you are looking for a disengaged gnosticism or casual inspiration, this book will probably be too challenging for you.

There is some criticism of the rationalizing tendencies of Westerners, but not unfair criticism, I think. Greed, materialism, and the over-objectification of the world are fair game for critique in any genuine spiritual persepective. In many ways, I think everybody should read this book. Certainly, anybody intersted in Taoism should read this book.
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