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Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century (review)

Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century (review) 46 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 andShanghai,aswellastheflowofstudentsandteachersthroughthem.Itisa weightyvolumeandawelcomeone. JerryDennerline Jerry Dennerline is a professor of history and Asian studies at Amherst College, specializing in family and community histories in the lower Yangzi region and the British Straits settlements from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. VishakhaN.Desai,editor. Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century. Williamstown,MA:SterlingandFrancineClarkArtInstitute,2007.272pp. Paperback$24.95,isbn978-0-300-12553-5. Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Centuryisacollectionofessaysthatwasfirst presentedattheClarkConferenceonAsianArtHistoryintheTwenty-First Century,heldin2006attheAsiaSocietyinNewYork.Thegoaloftheconference wastoexaminelong-heldassumptionsaboutobjects,ideas,ideology,theoretical frameworks,andinstitutionspertainingtoAsianart.Afterabriefbutinformative introductionbytheeditorofthecollection,VishakhaN.Desai,therearethree groupsofessays.ThefirstdealswiththehistoryofAsianarthistory,thesecond examinesthecharacterofcurrentmuseums,andthethirdviewstheeffectsof globalizationonartists.Thesethreeperspectivesprovideabroadscopebywhich toviewthedevelopmentsofthelastcenturyandsomepointsoforientationfor understandingfuturedevelopments.Theauthorshaveprovidedagreatbodyof knowledgeandavarietyoftheoreticalframeworksbywhichtoviewthevarious aspectsofAsianart. Thefirstsection,"FormingtheCanons,"examinesthehistoricaloriginsof Asianarttraditionsandtheroletheyplayedinformingcontemporaryperspectives.Inanoverview,thechangingopinionsandattitudesinscholarshipare revealed.Onepointincommonisthenewroleofgovernmentsinthedisseminationofinformationandinthecontrolofaccesstoresearchmaterials.Fredrick M. Asherpresentsaparticularlydetailedandfacetedexaminationoftheearly stagesofarthistoryinIndia,whichbeganastheby-productofBritishcolonial excavationofancientmonumentsbyamateurs,andthelong-lastingimpactof their writingsonsubsequentarthistorians,museumdirectors,anduniversity teachers.Ashercontraststhesetocurrentpostcolonialattitudesandnationalist extremistswhooftenrejectthevalidityoftheworkofWesternscholarsand limit theircooperation(pp.9ff.).NancySteinhardt'sessaybeginsbyestablishing © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 47 the surprisinglylimitedsourcefortheChinesecanonofarchitecturalaesthetics. Firstarticulatedinanearlytwelfth-centurytext,thiscanonicalarchitectural treatiseachievedlong-lastingdominanceinChinaaswellasinKoreaandin Japan. SteinhardtquestionstherestrictednatureofAsianarchitecturalstudiesin contrasttothenumeroustomesofWesternscholarshipandthescarcityofillustrationsofarchitectureinarthistoricaltexts.Incontrast,JeromeSilbergeld,facing thevoluminousarthistoryofChinesepaintingsproducedoverthecenturies, limitshisinquirytothechangingopinionsontheaestheticvalueofpaintingin the SongandYuandynasties.Silbergeldestablishesthevariousviewsregarding the relativesuperiorityoftheformer'sexactingdepictionsofnatureoverthe latter's morepersonalandcalligraphicformsoflandscapeartandshows howthe variousinterpretationsofthemeritsoftheartofbothdynastiesare relatedtothe sociopoliticalhistoryoftheperiodsinwhichtheywerecomposed.Similarlyfaced withagreatbodyofarthistoricalwritings,YukioLippitexaminesthefunction and artisticstyleofJapaneseZenpatriarchalportraitsfrom themedievalperiod. Inspiredbyrecentscholarshipestablishingtheritualfunctionofsuchportrayals, Lippitshowsthattheseimagesactuallyhadamultiplicityoffunctions.Lastly,Kaja M.McGowanconsidersthedevelopmentofpostcolonialartproducedinBaliby analyzingtheimpactoftheavailabilityofnew pigmentsandmaterialsandan increasinglyforeignartmarketfortraditional Cekutextiles.McGowanshowshow theseworks,whichfunctionedasreligiouscompositions,continuetoemploya symbolicsystemofcolorsandtoincorporatetherhythmsofnativemusicaldance rituals(p.110)intheirproduction. Thesecondsection,"Institution,Aesthetics,andPolitics,"examinesthe expandedroleofmuseumsinthetwenty-firstcentury:builtwithstatesupport, resultinginapoliticalframeworkandsometimeswithareligiousorientation,the museums'objectivesincludeadidacticfunctionpresentedwithinapersuasive ideologicalframework.Forexample,RanaMitter'sarticleinvestigatesthecreation oftwoChinesemuseumsdedicatedtothewarwithJapan.OneinBeijinghouses objectslinkedtotheatrocitiesofthewar;theother,locatedinChongking,commemoratesasitecentraltotheresistanceefforts.Bothareshowntobeinstepwith theMaoistdictumthatart,firstandforemost,servesapoliticalfunction.Mitter pointsoutthattheexhibits,drawinguponthepropagandaproducedduringthe resistance,aremorenakedpresentationsofthegruesomeaspectsofwarthanseen intheWestand,aimedatanationalaudience,elicitviewerparticipation(p.135). SuchinstitutionalprogramsdivorceChinafromaPanasianpoliticalunityand, at thesametime,takeamoreglobalstance(p.124).Alsofocusedonthepostwar eraisAkiraTakagishi'sessayonYashiroYukio'sestablishmentoftheYamato Bunkaken.Thereisarealassessmentofthedifficultiesoftheenterpriseinthe depressedandharshenvironmentofthetimeandofYukio'sforesightinamassing acollectionofart,buildingamuseuminagardensetting,andcreatingacenterfor culturalevents.Moreover,theseinstitutionsalsoengenderednationalistic,cultural pridesincetheircreation. 48 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 Thecontrastingroleofthemuseumintheeconomicandpoliticalglobal environmentofIndiaislinkedtoreligiousrevivalisminSaloniMathurandKavita Singh'sessay.Oftheenterprisesconsidered,thefirstistheMaitreyaProject,aplan forafive-hundred-foot-tallstatueoftheBuddhaoftheFuture,insideofwhichwill beshrines,exhibitiongalleries,andamuseum,aswellasasurroundinggreatpark complexhousingtenthousandstupamonuments,ahospital,andauniversity. SponsoredbyaBuddhisteffortheadedbythePreservationoftheMahayana TraditionundertheleadershipofTibetanlamaswithglobaloutreach,themuseum willbelocatedinthepoorandunderdevelopedsiteofthedeathoftheBuddhain Kushinagara,whichwillpotentiallybenefitgreatlyfromtheprojectedactivities. Theauthorsrevealthenot-so-apparentroleofDalitBuddhistsandtheirpolitical eminenceinthearea,whichprovidesabroaderunderstandingoftheproject.The twootherstudiesconcernthealreadycompletedmassiveAkshardhamTemple/ museumcomplexinDelhi,establishedbytheHinduSwaminarayansectwiththe supportoftheBJPHindufundamentalistpoliticalparty,andtheKhalsaHeritage ComplexinPunjab,whichcelebratestheSikhreligionanditshistory.Allofthese aremega-enterprises,greatinsizeandscope--withplacesofworship,facilitiesfor religiousactivities,grand-scalethemeparks,museums,shops,andlibraries. Furthermore,theyaretheresultofthecooperationbetweenthestateandreligious institutionstocreatecentersforreligiouspilgrimageandfortourists--localsitesof religiousactivitiesthathaveglobalextensions. Incontrasttotheseexpansiveefforts,GaoShiming'sessayconsidersagroup ofChinesecontemporaryartistswhoseartisviewedasaresponsetothestimulus ofglobalism,transnationalism,and"themosaicofideologiesthathaveformeda brokenmirror."Hedefinesmicropoliticalartasthesearchforidentityamong theseChineseartistswho,havingdetachedthemselvesfromculturalsymbols, ideology,andvulgarizedsociology(p.170),focusratheronthepoliticalrealityof everydaylife. Thelastgroupofessays,"NewHistories,NewFutures,"looksattheglobal interactionbetweenEastandWestfrombothsidesoftheexchange.Gennifer Weisenfelddiscusestwocontemporaryartists.MurakamiTakashi,oneofthemost successfulglobalJapaneseartists,isalsoacuratorandwriter.Murakamisituates JapanesecontemporaryartwithinthepurviewofthesubcultureoftheEdoperiod withitsnon-Westernaesthetics,consumeristagenda,anderoticpopularappeal. Similarly,NobuyoshiYukofindsinspirationinEdoperiodwoodblockprints,in particulartheirbawdyhumoranderoticplayfulness.Thus,thesetwocontemporaryartistshaveestablishedJapaneseoriginalityandcontinuitywiththepastfora globalaudience. AlexandraMunroeviewsglobalinteractionfromtheothersideoftheworld inheressaydescribingamuseumexhibitionproposalontheinfluencesofthe OrientonAmericanartiststhatwaslatersuccessfullyheld.Herproposalcontra- Reviews 49 dictsthecolonialistviewofOrientalismbyestablishingthepositiveresponseof theseartiststothespiritualityofAsianculture--art,literature,andotherforms of expression.MelissaChuoffersaconcisehistoryofcontemporaryChineseart in theWest,listingthevariousmajorexhibitions,catalogues,books,andarticles. Next,shecomparestheworkofthediasporaintheWest,offeringthatdiaspora artistsdemonstrateagreaterconcernforculturalidentitythanthosewholivein Chinaandconcentrateonnationaleventsandglobalissues.Herlastsectionnotes http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century (review)

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Abstract

46 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 andShanghai,aswellastheflowofstudentsandteachersthroughthem.Itisa weightyvolumeandawelcomeone. JerryDennerline Jerry Dennerline is a professor of history and Asian studies at Amherst College, specializing in family and community histories in the lower Yangzi region and the British Straits settlements from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. VishakhaN.Desai,editor. Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century. Williamstown,MA:SterlingandFrancineClarkArtInstitute,2007.272pp. Paperback$24.95,isbn978-0-300-12553-5. Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Centuryisacollectionofessaysthatwasfirst presentedattheClarkConferenceonAsianArtHistoryintheTwenty-First Century,heldin2006attheAsiaSocietyinNewYork.Thegoaloftheconference wastoexaminelong-heldassumptionsaboutobjects,ideas,ideology,theoretical frameworks,andinstitutionspertainingtoAsianart.Afterabriefbutinformative introductionbytheeditorofthecollection,VishakhaN.Desai,therearethree groupsofessays.ThefirstdealswiththehistoryofAsianarthistory,thesecond examinesthecharacterofcurrentmuseums,andthethirdviewstheeffectsof globalizationonartists.Thesethreeperspectivesprovideabroadscopebywhich toviewthedevelopmentsofthelastcenturyandsomepointsoforientationfor understandingfuturedevelopments.Theauthorshaveprovidedagreatbodyof knowledgeandavarietyoftheoreticalframeworksbywhichtoviewthevarious aspectsofAsianart. Thefirstsection,"FormingtheCanons,"examinesthehistoricaloriginsof Asianarttraditionsandtheroletheyplayedinformingcontemporaryperspectives.Inanoverview,thechangingopinionsandattitudesinscholarshipare revealed.Onepointincommonisthenewroleofgovernmentsinthedisseminationofinformationandinthecontrolofaccesstoresearchmaterials.Fredrick M. Asherpresentsaparticularlydetailedandfacetedexaminationoftheearly stagesofarthistoryinIndia,whichbeganastheby-productofBritishcolonial excavationofancientmonumentsbyamateurs,andthelong-lastingimpactof their writingsonsubsequentarthistorians,museumdirectors,anduniversity teachers.Ashercontraststhesetocurrentpostcolonialattitudesandnationalist extremistswhooftenrejectthevalidityoftheworkofWesternscholarsand limit theircooperation(pp.9ff.).NancySteinhardt'sessaybeginsbyestablishing © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 47 the surprisinglylimitedsourcefortheChinesecanonofarchitecturalaesthetics. Firstarticulatedinanearlytwelfth-centurytext,thiscanonicalarchitectural treatiseachievedlong-lastingdominanceinChinaaswellasinKoreaandin Japan. SteinhardtquestionstherestrictednatureofAsianarchitecturalstudiesin contrasttothenumeroustomesofWesternscholarshipandthescarcityofillustrationsofarchitectureinarthistoricaltexts.Incontrast,JeromeSilbergeld,facing thevoluminousarthistoryofChinesepaintingsproducedoverthecenturies, limitshisinquirytothechangingopinionsontheaestheticvalueofpaintingin the SongandYuandynasties.Silbergeldestablishesthevariousviewsregarding the relativesuperiorityoftheformer'sexactingdepictionsofnatureoverthe latter's morepersonalandcalligraphicformsoflandscapeartandshows howthe variousinterpretationsofthemeritsoftheartofbothdynastiesare relatedtothe sociopoliticalhistoryoftheperiodsinwhichtheywerecomposed.Similarlyfaced withagreatbodyofarthistoricalwritings,YukioLippitexaminesthefunction and artisticstyleofJapaneseZenpatriarchalportraitsfrom themedievalperiod. Inspiredbyrecentscholarshipestablishingtheritualfunctionofsuchportrayals, Lippitshowsthattheseimagesactuallyhadamultiplicityoffunctions.Lastly,Kaja M.McGowanconsidersthedevelopmentofpostcolonialartproducedinBaliby analyzingtheimpactoftheavailabilityofnew pigmentsandmaterialsandan increasinglyforeignartmarketfortraditional Cekutextiles.McGowanshowshow theseworks,whichfunctionedasreligiouscompositions,continuetoemploya symbolicsystemofcolorsandtoincorporatetherhythmsofnativemusicaldance rituals(p.110)intheirproduction. Thesecondsection,"Institution,Aesthetics,andPolitics,"examinesthe expandedroleofmuseumsinthetwenty-firstcentury:builtwithstatesupport, resultinginapoliticalframeworkandsometimeswithareligiousorientation,the museums'objectivesincludeadidacticfunctionpresentedwithinapersuasive ideologicalframework.Forexample,RanaMitter'sarticleinvestigatesthecreation oftwoChinesemuseumsdedicatedtothewarwithJapan.OneinBeijinghouses objectslinkedtotheatrocitiesofthewar;theother,locatedinChongking,commemoratesasitecentraltotheresistanceefforts.Bothareshowntobeinstepwith theMaoistdictumthatart,firstandforemost,servesapoliticalfunction.Mitter pointsoutthattheexhibits,drawinguponthepropagandaproducedduringthe resistance,aremorenakedpresentationsofthegruesomeaspectsofwarthanseen intheWestand,aimedatanationalaudience,elicitviewerparticipation(p.135). SuchinstitutionalprogramsdivorceChinafromaPanasianpoliticalunityand, at thesametime,takeamoreglobalstance(p.124).Alsofocusedonthepostwar eraisAkiraTakagishi'sessayonYashiroYukio'sestablishmentoftheYamato Bunkaken.Thereisarealassessmentofthedifficultiesoftheenterpriseinthe depressedandharshenvironmentofthetimeandofYukio'sforesightinamassing acollectionofart,buildingamuseuminagardensetting,andcreatingacenterfor culturalevents.Moreover,theseinstitutionsalsoengenderednationalistic,cultural pridesincetheircreation. 48 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.1,2011 Thecontrastingroleofthemuseumintheeconomicandpoliticalglobal environmentofIndiaislinkedtoreligiousrevivalisminSaloniMathurandKavita Singh'sessay.Oftheenterprisesconsidered,thefirstistheMaitreyaProject,aplan forafive-hundred-foot-tallstatueoftheBuddhaoftheFuture,insideofwhichwill beshrines,exhibitiongalleries,andamuseum,aswellasasurroundinggreatpark complexhousingtenthousandstupamonuments,ahospital,andauniversity. SponsoredbyaBuddhisteffortheadedbythePreservationoftheMahayana TraditionundertheleadershipofTibetanlamaswithglobaloutreach,themuseum willbelocatedinthepoorandunderdevelopedsiteofthedeathoftheBuddhain Kushinagara,whichwillpotentiallybenefitgreatlyfromtheprojectedactivities. Theauthorsrevealthenot-so-apparentroleofDalitBuddhistsandtheirpolitical eminenceinthearea,whichprovidesabroaderunderstandingoftheproject.The twootherstudiesconcernthealreadycompletedmassiveAkshardhamTemple/ museumcomplexinDelhi,establishedbytheHinduSwaminarayansectwiththe supportoftheBJPHindufundamentalistpoliticalparty,andtheKhalsaHeritage ComplexinPunjab,whichcelebratestheSikhreligionanditshistory.Allofthese aremega-enterprises,greatinsizeandscope--withplacesofworship,facilitiesfor religiousactivities,grand-scalethemeparks,museums,shops,andlibraries. Furthermore,theyaretheresultofthecooperationbetweenthestateandreligious institutionstocreatecentersforreligiouspilgrimageandfortourists--localsitesof religiousactivitiesthathaveglobalextensions. Incontrasttotheseexpansiveefforts,GaoShiming'sessayconsidersagroup ofChinesecontemporaryartistswhoseartisviewedasaresponsetothestimulus ofglobalism,transnationalism,and"themosaicofideologiesthathaveformeda brokenmirror."Hedefinesmicropoliticalartasthesearchforidentityamong theseChineseartistswho,havingdetachedthemselvesfromculturalsymbols, ideology,andvulgarizedsociology(p.170),focusratheronthepoliticalrealityof everydaylife. Thelastgroupofessays,"NewHistories,NewFutures,"looksattheglobal interactionbetweenEastandWestfrombothsidesoftheexchange.Gennifer Weisenfelddiscusestwocontemporaryartists.MurakamiTakashi,oneofthemost successfulglobalJapaneseartists,isalsoacuratorandwriter.Murakamisituates JapanesecontemporaryartwithinthepurviewofthesubcultureoftheEdoperiod withitsnon-Westernaesthetics,consumeristagenda,anderoticpopularappeal. Similarly,NobuyoshiYukofindsinspirationinEdoperiodwoodblockprints,in particulartheirbawdyhumoranderoticplayfulness.Thus,thesetwocontemporaryartistshaveestablishedJapaneseoriginalityandcontinuitywiththepastfora globalaudience. AlexandraMunroeviewsglobalinteractionfromtheothersideoftheworld inheressaydescribingamuseumexhibitionproposalontheinfluencesofthe OrientonAmericanartiststhatwaslatersuccessfullyheld.Herproposalcontra- Reviews 49 dictsthecolonialistviewofOrientalismbyestablishingthepositiveresponseof theseartiststothespiritualityofAsianculture--art,literature,andotherforms of expression.MelissaChuoffersaconcisehistoryofcontemporaryChineseart in theWest,listingthevariousmajorexhibitions,catalogues,books,andarticles. Next,shecomparestheworkofthediasporaintheWest,offeringthatdiaspora artistsdemonstrateagreaterconcernforculturalidentitythanthosewholivein Chinaandconcentrateonnationaleventsandglobalissues.Herlastsectionnotes

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Aug 9, 2011

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