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Masterworks of Chinese Painting
March 13 through May 26, 2002
First major exhibition of important collection of Chinese paintings amassed by reknowned scholar James Cahill and family members.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is proud to present Masterworks of Chinese Painting, a stunning exhibition of distinguished works amassed over nearly fifty years by UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus James Cahill and family members. The exhibition will open on March 13, and run through May 26, 2002, before beginning a national tour. Following the tour, the collection will be permanently re-installed at the UC Berkeley Art Museum, where it will be a key component of one of the finest collections of Chinese painting on view in an American museum.
The Cahill collections, historically known as the Ching Yüan Chai Collection, represent virtually every period and phase of Chinese painting over the last 900 years and include major figure paintings and a selection of botanical and animal subjects. The great strength, however, is the paintings of landscapes. Considered the highest category of painting in China, the landscape embodies the ideals of the Confucian scholar. As such, landscape painting is the area of Chinese art in which can be found the most daring artistic experiments, and the greatest stylistic developments.
The exhibition is the visual arts component of a campuswide series of events featuring Asian art and culture. Anchored by Cal Performances's presentation of cellist Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, this weeklong series of Asian musical and dance performances as well as lectures, symposia, and community programs will explore the cross-cultural influences among the lands comprising the legendary Silk Road and the West. Although the Silk Road linked diverse cultures and peoples through trade routes extending across many lands throughout Central and East Asia, the importance of China as a source and primary exponent of art, literature, and philosophy will be underscored by the exhibition.
Masterworks of Chinese Painting will more than 60 paintings, including 35 distinguished hanging scrolls, hand scrolls, and album leaves dating from the Song, Yüan , Ming, and Qing dynasties to the early twentieth century. The exhibition will be curated by Julia M. White, Curator of Asian Art at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, with the assistance of Lucinda Barnes, BAM/PFA Curator for Collections; Sheila Keppel, BAM/PFA Consulting Curator for Asian Art; and Patricia Berger, Professor, History of Art, UC Berkeley. White, Keppel, and Berger are former Cahill students.
Professor Cahill began collecting Chinese paintings in the 1950s while completing his dissertation on Yüan painting. (The name Ching Yüan Chai was bestowed upon Professor Cahill by a noted Japanese scholar and translates roughly to "Studio of One Who is Looking Intently at the Yüan Dynasty.") For Cahill, collecting was key to his efforts to understand on a deeper level the intricacies of Chinese painting and culture. He has said, "I am convinced that collecting has deepened my understanding of Chinese painting…forcing me to make judgments of quality and authenticity." Professor Cahill's writings and work, including seminal exhibitions he organized for the BAM/PFA and elsewhere, were highly influential in attracting the attention of Western scholars to post-Sung dynasty painters. In thirty years of teaching, Professor Cahill shared his learning process, and the collection, with the students he taught and mentored, many of whom went on to distinguished university and/or museum careers of their own. The exhibition will explore the practice of collecting as a vital dimension of university teaching.
The exhibition installation includes detailed annotations by Professor Cahill, emphasizing the developmental course of Chinese painting over time. An original, scholarly catalog will be published after the exhibition has completed its tour, in 2004. To complement the BAM/PFA spring exhibition, Professor Cahill and a number of the eminent scholars he has trained will be brought together in a series of public lectures and education programs.
In 2000, a major grant from an anonymous Bay Area foundation made possible the purchase of 50 paintings from the Cahill family collections deemed especially important for research, teaching, and exhibition. The acquisition of these paintings, many of which are considered among the finest in the United States, positions the BAM/PFA as one of the definitive resources for historical Chinese painting on the West Coast.
A series of lectures presented in conjunction with the exhibition highlights James Cahill's formative influence on the work of a generation of leading art historians. All of the speakers are former students of Cahill. Admission to each of these programs is free or included with museum admission. For more information about these or any of the museum's programs, please call (510) 642-0808.
Julia M. White
Curator's Gallery Talk
Thursday, March 14, 12:15 p.m., Gallery 6
Guest curator Julia M. White will lead a walkthrough of the exhibition, foregrounding the distinctive characteristics and strengths of the internationally renowned Chinese paintings. White has been a curator of Asian art since graduating from Berkeley in 1984, first at the Denver Art Museum and, since 1996, at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Lecture: "Adventures of a Scholar-Teacher Collecting Chinese Paintings"
Sunday, March 17, 3 p.m.
Professor Cahill presents an informal illustrated talk about collecting Chinese paintings and how it influenced his research and teaching.
Lecture: "The Other Collection: Aesthetic Sensibility and Chinese Buddhist Art"
Sunday, April 21, 3 p.m.
Professor Patricia Berger will focus on Chinese Buddhist paintings collected by Professor Cahill and the Cahill family which are not included in the exhibition. Curator of Chinese Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from 1982 to 1994, Berger joined the History of Art faculty at Berkeley in 1997. Her upcoming book, Raining Flowers: Buddhist Art and Practice at the Qianlong Court, 1736-95, will be published next year.
Lecture: "Visibility and Visuality: Picturing Women in Late-Nineteenth-Century Shanghai"
Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m.
Professor Richard Vinograd will single out images of women as a way of exploring alternative pictorial modes (popular, journalistic prints of public scandals and spectacles, as well as paintings) and considering the cultural visibility of women in late-ninteteenth-century Shanghai. Vinograd is a professor of art history specializing in Chinese art at Stanford University. He taught at Columbia University and University of Southern California before joining the Stanford faculty in 1989. He is the author of many publications including Chinese Art and Culture (with Robert Thorp), published in 2001 by Abrams/Prentice Hall.
Melody of China
Sunday, April 28, 1:30 p.m., Gallery 6
Described as musicians of "great lyricism and beautiful tone" by critics, the nationally known Bay Area ensemble Melody of China will perform folk and classical music drawn from Ming and Qing dynastic styles, and including tunes from along the Silk Road. Founded in 1993 by Hong Wang and Yangqin Zhao, the ensemble performs on traditional Chinese instruments including the yangqin (Chinese dulcimer), pipa (lute), ruan (moon guitar), and liuqin (Chinese mandolin).
Guided tours of the exhibition will take place on most Thursdays at 12:15 and 5:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Call (510) 642-0808 for further information.