The Art of Mu Xin: Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes

The Art of Mu Xin: Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes

by Alexandra Munroe
     
 
Mu Xin (b. 1927) is one of the leading artist-intellectuals of the Chinese diaspora. Now living in New York City, he is known for his complex writings and paintings. A formidable figure in the cultural and intellectual history of Chinese modernism, Mu Xin is admired for his unique synthesis of Chinese and Western aesthetic sensibilities and intellectual traditions.

Overview

Mu Xin (b. 1927) is one of the leading artist-intellectuals of the Chinese diaspora. Now living in New York City, he is known for his complex writings and paintings. A formidable figure in the cultural and intellectual history of Chinese modernism, Mu Xin is admired for his unique synthesis of Chinese and Western aesthetic sensibilities and intellectual traditions. This beautifully illustrated catalogue focuses on a group of thirty-three landscape paintings that Mu Xin painted between 1977 and 1979, in the immediate aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Many of these works have never been exhibited or published in the West. In addition, the book features Mu Xin's Prison Notes, sixty-six sheets that were written when the artist was in solitary confinement in China in 1971-72.

This catalogue will accompany an exhibition on view at the Yale University Art Gallery from October 2 to December 9, 2001. The exhibition will then travel to the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago from January 24 through March 31, 2002, at the Honolulu Academy of Art from October 2 to December 1, 2002 and at the Asia Society in New York City. Other venues to be anounced.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Now in his mid-70s, Mu Xin is a reclusive Chinese migr writer and painter, longtime resident in the Forest Hills section of Queens, N.Y., whose work is unfamiliar to most nonspecialists. Since very few of Mu Xin's voluminous writings in poetry and prose have appeared in English, his writing achievement must be taken on faith in English-speaking countries, but this gorgeous, large-format book leaves his painterly skills in no doubt. Accompanying a traveling exhibition of his paintings, it includes nearly three dozen landscape paintings from the late 1970s, just after the infamous Cultural Revolution, as well as calligraphic sheets written as a political prisoner in 1972, 56 b&w and 54 color illustrations in all. Munroe (Yes Yoko Ono), director of New York's well-appointed Japan Society Gallery, offers a factual preface on the artist, while four experts in the field weigh in with subtlety and intelligence, most notably Yale professor Richard Barnhart, whose chapter, "Landscape Painting at the End of Time," places the painter in the broad context of Chinese art and literature. The paintings, somber in tone and mightily concerned with texture, are very well reproduced here and should win over browsers. University of Chicago professor Wu Hung finds that Mu Xin, although "elusive" as a person and creator, is a greater artist than the recent Nobel Prize-winning writer Gao Xingjian (also a painter) "in terms of both the stylistic subtlety of his painting and the thematic richness of his writing." This is an excellent and unexpected addition to any collection on modern Asian art, and the book is so very wide (at 11 16) that it will easily fill a coffee table by itself. (Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The collision between European and Chinese culture in the modern age is exemplified by the problems facing 20th-century Chinese painters who wanted to participate in the dynamic experiments of modern European painting without losing the valuable legacy of thousands of years of Chinese ink painting. Mu Xin, born Sun Pu to a privileged family in 1927, encountered all the turbulence of the 20th century in China, from the warlord era to the Japanese war to the Cultural Revolution. Privately educated in the traditional scholarly arts of music, literature, and painting, he read deeply in the moribund library of a prominent Chinese novelist in hiding from the Japanese. With a growing appreciation of Western thought he studied at the Shanghai Fine Art Institute, emerging just as the Communists took control of China in 1949. After suffering increasing criticism as an intellectual, he was imprisoned in 1971 and wrote 650,000 microscopic characters on paper given him to write self-criticism. These prison notes are a wide-ranging essay devoted to ethics and philosophy, both Western and Chinese. Exhibited with them are 33 ink landscapes painted under house arrest between 1977 and 1979. The extraordinary density and subtlety of the works results from the unique method of combining monoprint technique with burnishing and decalcomania overlain by a more traditional brush stroke technique. Often enigmatic, the landscapes are a way of seeking understanding of the present by viewing the lessons of the past. Recommended for academic and art collections. David McClelland, Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300090758
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
10/11/2001
Pages:
152
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 16.00(h) x (d)

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