Advertisement Upgrade to remove ads

The Forbidden City
Mostly 16th century
Mostly Ming Dynasty
-The majority of the complex was constructed during the Ming dynasty, founded by an emperor who drove the Mongols out of Beijing and solidified his following and military rank with the help of scholars. He then grew to distrust intellectuals, and the whole of the dynasty was conducted in a ruthless and despotic fashion
-Visitors enter through the Meridian Gate, the largest gate of the complex with a courtyard crossed by a bow-shaped waterway and 5 arched marble bridges. The central arch was reserved for the emperor, where he reviewed his troops in the courtyard below
-Contains a Hall of Supreme Harmony, in which enthronements and imperial weddings took place, a Hall of Central Harmony and a Hall of Protecting Harmony
-The symmetry of the complex reflects ancient Chinese beliefs of the harmony of the universe, and reflects the vision of the emperor as the Son of Harmony, whose duty was to maintain cosmic order

Autumn Colors on Qiao and Hua Mountains
Zhao Mengfu
c. 1296
Yuan Dynasty
-Constructed during the Yuan dynasty, a continuation of the Mongol empire and a period in which a separation of political and cultural centers created a distinction between styles of art.
-Painted as a hand scroll in the style of the literati, an alienated group of painters and scholars that strayed away from traditional ideals of court painting and incorporated calligraphy and poetry into their works
-Zhao constructed the painting for a friend whose ancestors came from the present-day province of Shandong. The landscape supposedly depicts the land of the region, yet is rendered in an elegantly archaic manner of the Tang dynasty, thus evoking nostalgia for his friend's homeland and China's past
-The painting incorporates subtle brushwork, a sparing use of color, a "spirit of antiquity", and an intended personal use, all conventions typical of the literati

The Rongxi Studio
Ni Zan
c. 1372
Yuan Dynasty
-A hanging scroll painted in ink by Ni Zan, a wealthy, eccentric scholar whose cleanliness and aloofness with daily ritual was notorious. He concluded his life as a recluse; it is said his spirit was too refined for the world of government and thus chose to live as a hermit
-The painting contains a colophon, or inscription often read as a poem that adds to the beauty of the painting and reflects the multifaceted nature of the literati
-Mountains, rocks, trees, and a pavilion are simplistically rendered using a "dry brush" technique, where the painter uses a minimal amount of ink on the brush, so the paper appears to "breathe" through ragged strokes
-The painting appears to have a light touch, and a sense of simplicity and purity, associated with Ni's noble spirit; literati paintings were often known to reflect the painter's personality

Hundreds of Birds Admiring Peacocks
Yin Hong
Late 15th century
Ming Dynasty
-Representative of a court painting, in which works were commissioned by a courtly patron, intended for a large, courtly audience, were often large in scale, and painters received cash payment for their skills
-An example of the birds and flowers genre, a popular theme of the Song academy
-Homage of the birds to the peacocks is symbolic of homage of court officials to the emperor
-Style goes back to Song academy, yet large scale and multiplication of details are traits of the Ming

Spring Dawn in the Han Palace
Qiu Ying
First half of the 16th century
Ming Dynasty
-Constructed by Qui Ying, a preeminent professional painter of the Ming Dynasty who lived in Suzhou, a prosperous southern city
-The painting is based on Tang-dynasty depictions of women in the court of the Han dynasty
-Elegant figures of women are depicted upon a backdrop of the palace, engaging in pastimes such as chess, calligraphy, painting, and music
-Antique subject matter, refined technique, and flawless color and composition reflect the high point of professional, court commissioned paintings of the Ming dynasty

Poet on a Mountaintop
Shen Zhou
c. 1500
Ming Dynasty
-In early landscape paintings, figures were often depicted dwarfed by the surrounding landscape. Here, the poet is depicted at the top of the mountain, dominating the landscape, with a poem composed by Shen Zhou hanging in the air, as if the figure was projecting his own thoughts
-The informal, relaxed, and straightforward calligraphy of the poem parallels the composition's construction, symbolizing a reflection of the artist's personality
-The painting reflects the Ming literati philosophy that the mind held the basis for reality
-The synthesis of poetry, calligraphy, and painting evokes the harmony of mind and landscape, thus representing the essence of literati painting

The Qingbian Mountains
Dong Qichang
1617
Ming Dynasty
-Constructed by Dong Qichang, a pioneer of literati painting and a poet, calligrapher, and painter who developed the theory that the expressive nature of landscape paintings is inherently abstract and lies in its nature as a construction of brushstrokes
-The hanging scroll is reminiscent of the work of Dong Yuan, a tenth-century artist, yet the style evokes an ambiguous space, as if the foreground, middle, and background were compressed to the surface of the picture plane
-Variation, repetition, and transformation of trees, boulders, and foliage cause each element of nature to echo and build off each other, reflecting Dong's theory of the manipulation of brush strokes
-The double reading at the top is abstract and representational, thus paralleling the double-nature of the work as a painting of a landscape, and an interpretation of traditional landscape paintings

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Maya Lin
1982
Modern Period
-Commissioned by Maya Lin, a Yale graduate and Chinese-American who won a design competition in 1981 as an undergraduate student for the construction of a memorial to commemorate the lost soldiers in the Vietnam War. The controversial design was based off her desire to create an opening, or wound, in the earth to symbolize the gravity of the loss of soldiers
-In 1954, the war began due to conflict between North and South Vietnamese rebels and South Vietnamese troops
-In 1969, a draft was instituted by the United States so that America could continue aid in South Vietnam to minimize Red Tide threat
-Ochsner's article utilizes an artful analysis of the monument and previous scholarship to support his argument that the memorial is a powerful case of a "space of absence", defined as a void in which we have the simultaneous experience of both the absence and presence of the dead

Rock Garden, Ryoan-Ji
c. 1480
Muromachi Period
-Constructed during the Muromachi period, a time where the political and cultural dominance of the emperor had given way to rule by samurai warriors under the leadership of the shogun, or general-in-chief
-The period is marked by Zen Buddhism, whose austere ideals appealed to the samurai
-Zen monks turned to dry gardens, or karesansui, as an object of constant vigilance and work by pulling weeds, tweaking shoots, and raking the gravel into intricate patterns that recall waves or rippling water, thus achieving meditation
-By the time this garden was created, stone and gravel gardens had become highly intellectualized, abstract reflections of nature
-This garden has been interpreted as representing islands in the sea, mountain peaks rising above the clouds, a swimming tigress with her cubs, or even constellations of stars and planets

Geisha as Daruma Crossing the Sea
Harunobo
mid-18th century
Edo Period
-Constructed during the Edo period, a time where peace and prosperity was brought to Japan under to Tokugawa family's rigid and repressive form of government. Zen Buddhism was replaced by neo-Confucianism, society was divided into 4 classes, and restrictions on travel and trade were implemented until 1853 when the "black" ships arrived
-Woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e prints, represent "pictures of the floating world", immortalize Buddhist ideals of the transience of pleasures, and were often sold in the pleasure district of Edo (modern day Tokyo) where actors and courtesans became objects of admiration
-A young woman in a red cloak crosses the water on a reed, referencing one of the Daruma legends; she is often associated with a Buddhist teacher able to offer pleasures, akin to enlightenment, to humans

Raiko Attacks a Demon Kite
Totoya Hokkei
c. 1825
Edo Period
-Polychrome woodblock prints such as this represent the effort of three people: the artist, the carver, and the painter
-The innovations of woodblock printmaking enabled art to be available to much larger audiences
-This print is a limited edition print called a surimono, and celebrates the hero Raiko, a slayer of demons; it also sends a message for the new year of vanquishing bad luck and ushering in good
-Woodblock prints often combined text and images, represented in the poem depicted in the upper right side of the print

The Great Wave
Katsushika Hokusai
c. 1831
Edo Period
-The composition, taken from a series of prints called Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, incorporates flat planes and strong linear outlines that influenced Western artists such as Edgar De Gas and Vincent Van Gogh
-The popularity of this image and other woodblock prints came to be known as japonism, or an interest in all things Japanese that pervaded throughout Western culture

Magic Ball
Takashi Murakami
1999
Modern Period
-Japanese art merged with that of the West in the 1990s, with creativity and tradition manipulated in new ways
-Muramaki, a Japanese artist who works in both New York and Japan, is prominent among artists who have taken Japanese manga and anime forms as an inspiration for painting and sculpture
-Emphasis on undulating lines and flat forms to the point of a denial of pictorial space has its roots in Edo period style
-Western animation (comic books and newspaper comic strips) of the early 20th century influenced contemporary Japanese artists

Metropolis
Taro Rin
2001
Modern Period
-The film and image is depicted in anime style, developed by Osamu Tezuka ("father of anime") who established the anime canon of large, round head and eyes of figures, expressive characters, and a sci-fi aspect within the art that incorporates traditional Japanese narratives
-The film revolves around the development of new-age robots, thus reflecting the fear of the rise in technology that pervaded Japan throughout the modern period

The Great Wall of China
Mostly 16th century
Mostly Ming Dynasty
-The Great Wall is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials; the wall runs across an east-to-west line along the northern border of China
-The wall was constructed in part by emperor Qin Shi Huang in the 3rd century BCE; however, the majority of the wall's construction occured during the Ming dynasty
-The wall was constructed in part as a pathway for trade and as a system of defense against Mongol and Manchu invasions
-The wall reflects collisions and exchanges between agricultural and nomadic civilizations in ancient China up to the 17th century

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again

Example:

Reload the page to try again!

Reload

Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

NEW! Voice Recording

Create Set