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2013 Winter Issue 1 (January 18, 2013)

Ancient Masters in Modern Style: Chinese Art at the Perlman Teaching Museum

January 22, 2013
By Claire Su

Ancient paintings, modern Chinese artists, and ink are on display for all to see in a beautiful new exhibit of Chinese paintings exhibited in the Perlman Museum.

Brought to Carleton by Professor of Art History and Director of Asian Studies Katie Ryor, “Ancient Masters in Modern Style” explores important motifs in Chinese art.

“There is something for everyone, whether you are interested in China, art, or both,” said Ryor.

The exhibition debuted last Friday with a talk given by Professor Ryor, the curator of the exhibition, followed by an authentic Chinese meal and a performance by the Carleton’s Chinese Music Ensemble.

The title “Ancient Masters in Modern Style” gives insight to its central theme. “The purpose of the exhibition is to show how Chinese painters have engaged with their own art history. They always copy ancient masters as part of their training, but they also take this study of the past to a more creative level,” Ryor remarked.

The paintings in the exhibit are drawn from a collection at the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum, where the exhibition was organized and first showcased, and supplemented by pieces from the private Lijin collection.

The paintings, dating from the 16th century to their more modern counterparts form 2005, are not arranged chronologically, but rather grouped together to reflect how they respond to each other.

According to Ryor, “Chinese painters across all time periods have studied the past, and they transform or respond to that past in their artworks.”

The ongoing exhibition opportunities for Ryor’s class. Students in Art History 209 will not only be giving tours of the exhibition to the general public, but also designing a 3-D model exhibition using Google SketchUp that serve as precursors to “Ancient Masters in Modern Style”.

This is Ryor’s first time curating her own show and she described her new professional accomplishment as “very satisfying.”  The exhibit introduced a new teaching medium for her Art History class and also gave her the rare opportunity to work with a Carleton student through a research grant.

Professor Ryor’s hope for the exhibition is that “people of little experience with Chinese art would be able to learn about this major aspect of it, and learn about the artistic dimension of Chinese culture.”

For a few hours this winter term, she hopes visitors will enjoy the beauties of Chinese art “and join the ongoing conversations between decades of Chinese painters.”

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