Publications and reproductions

3. Literati approaches to art and connoisseurship

The first books in this list provide discussions of ‘expectations’ and criticism, largely from a contemporary perspective. The list finishes with several modern anthologies of Ming and Qing texts that provide insight into the motives and rhetoric of the literati situation.

  • James C.Y. WATT and Chu-Tsing LI
    The Chinese scholar's studio: artistic life in the late Ming period
    New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987

    In these introductions to an exhibition at the Shanghai Museum, Li and Watt tackle the values and ideals of the literati. They place art in the fabric of life, and speak to some of the wider social and personal issues that are at stake when art is pursued in this way. While the writing is more academic, the issues exposed here indicate why literati art is finding new appeal among younger Chinese artists and critics. Watt is currently the Brooke Russell Astor Chairman of the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
  • Paul MOSS
    Escape from the Dusty World: Chinese Paintings and Literati Works of Art
    London: Sydney L. Moss Gallery, 1999

    The latest proprietor of the Sydney L. Moss gallery, Moss speaks of the pleasures of Chinese literati art in contemporary experience. As with his other catalogues, the writing is quite personal, passionate and even anti-academic. Inasmuch as the objects and paintings here were offered for sale, the selection is ‘typical’ even if of a high standard. The writing is a fine demonstration of an essentially literati approach to developing meaning in relation to cultural objects, undertaken as a pervasive practice of a well-lived life.
  • CHIU Kwong Chiu 趙廣超
    筆紙中國畫 (2003)
    筆記清明上河圖 (2005)
    大紫禁城─王者的軸線 (2005)
    不只中國木建築 (2000)

    Trained as a painter, Chiu discusses traditional Chinese painting and architecture with freshness and imagination. His approach is personal and intuitive, supported by research and his own exploratory drawing. His books have attracted a popular following among younger Chinese designers and the general public. He is a consulting researcher to the Palace Museum, Beijing. (He collaborated on the translation to Ten Days in the Mountains, an introduction to literati painting for children, which is featured on this website.)
  • Susan BUSH and Christian F. MURCK (ed.)
    Theories of the Arts in China
    Princeton University Press, 1983

    Susan BUSH and Hsio-yen SHIH (ed.)
    Early Chinese Texts on Painting
    Harvard University Press, 1985

    Susan BUSH (ed.)
    The Chinese Literati on Painting: Si Sinh (1037-1101) to Tung Ch'i-ch'ang (1555-1636)
    Harvard University Press, 1971

    The first book provides a wide survey of aesthetic motives and practices. These are explored in respect to the formation of painting theory in the second, and the literati position is considered in depth in the last.
  • 中国书画论丛书
    For the Ming period, 明代画论 (2002)
    For the Qing period, 清人论画 (2005), 清代画论 (2005) and 清前期书论 (2005)

    A series of selections from major figures of the periods. The texts are supported by good notes explaining context and the contemporary meaning of particular terminology. These could be sensibly read alongside a set of reproductions of representative paintings and calligraphy.