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The Monochrome Mode in East Asian Art features select works of art from East Asia across time and space that are visually unified in their monochromatic appearance. In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultures, the brushing of ink on paper or silk is used for both calligraphy and painting, which naturally leads to ink monochrome as a major mode of visual expression. In East Asian ceramics, too, single colors are often used for glazing or decorating stoneware and porcelain objects.

The oldest objects in this installation are two prunus vases (meiping), one made in the 11th to early 12th century during the Northern Song dynasty and the other in the 13th to 14th century during the Southern Song dynasty or Yuan dynasty. Also on display is a small landscape by the celebrated Chinese artist Wen Zhengming (1470–1559) that exemplifies the subtlety of ink monochrome paintings of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Chinese literati paintings, particularly those in ink monochrome, had a strong influence on Korean art of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). This may be seen in the newly acquired late 17th- to 18th-century hanging scroll, Two Scholars, Attendant, and Donkey in a Landscape, the first Korean painting to enter the Museum’s collection.

Chinese ink monochrome paintings of the Ming and Qing dynasties also exerted considerable influence on Japanese painting and artists. The large, wide hanging scroll on view by Hine Taizan (1813–1869) has a strong Chinese flavor in a landscape with verdant trees. A set of four paintings by Araki Minol (1928–2010), titled Distant Morning II, demonstrate the gestural qualities of ink on paper.

Gallery 225 is devoted to the periodic rotation of Asian art and related objects. The Monochrome Mode in East Asian Art is curated by Philip Hu, curator of Asian art.


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