Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman of the Department of Asian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Made possible by the Pauline and Joseph Degenfelder Family Endowment Fund
How to Read Chinese Paintings
Sunday, June 4, 2017
The Chinese way of appreciating a painting is often expressed by the words du hua, “to read a painting.” How does one do that? Because art is a visual language, words alone cannot adequately convey its expressive dimension. In this lecture, Mike Hearn will visually analyze select paintings and calligraphies from the encyclopedic collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and elucidate what makes each a masterpiece.
Spanning a thousand years of Chinese art from the eighth through the seventeenth century, the lecture will examine multiple layers of meaning—style, technique, symbolism, past traditions, and the artist’s personal circumstances—in the treatment of landscapes, flowers, birds, figures, religious subjects, and calligraphies in order to illuminate the main goal of every Chinese artist: to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but also its inner essence.