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Jades at WAM

Post #906 • November 13, 2006, 10:48 AM • 3 Comments

Worcester, MA — Two central Massachusetts donors bequeathed collections of Chinese jades to the Worcester Art Museum during the 1990s, adding to its already appreciable holdings of such works. Consequently, Mountain Harvests: Chinese Jades and Other Treasured Stones at the WAM may be the largest exhibition of its kind on display in America at the moment. They don't inspire criticism so much as drooling. Semiprecious stones that would be difficult to carve with modern tools, much less bow drills, transform under the artisans' hands into objects so intricate as to defy technical explanation. Some of the larger stones represent whole dioramas of Taoist-inspired nature scenes, complete with figural narratives. Did you know that you can carve quartz? You can, apparently, resulting in stone sculptures as clear as water. Although there are some older jade circles and ceremonial knives, most of the objects hail from the Qing, the dynasty in which this art reached its pinnacle. The assertive patterns within the stones play against the stylized illusionism of the carving, inspiring a kind of visual double-entendre, and the commensurate delight.

description pending

Circular Table Screen with Mountain Scene, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), nephrite, gift of Maria and John Dirlam

Pair of Leonine Mythological Creatures, Han dynasty/Southern Dynasties (206 BCE - 589 CE) or later, nephrite, on loan from the Rubin-Ladd Foundation, Ester R. Portnow Collection of Asian Art

Above, second figure

description pending




November 13, 2006, 5:17 PM

Since childhood, my interest in Inuit art has helped shape an esthetic understanding of the connections between mystery, immagination and spirituality - or a comprehensive "eternity". I see an intrinsic relationship between the jades presented here, Inuit art and my own understanding of '"sublime and beautiful"' as descriptive categories. (African masks as well... ) These are fuctional objects that we name "Art".

As far as I understand, sublime involves threat, terror, thresholds, incomprehension, profundity, and to some extent austerety, while beauty is the term most often used to describe things tangible, graspable and comprehensible. Thus are these Chinease jades beautiful or sublime, or both, or neither...?

In the future those who will admire the 'functional objects' of now, will call them "Art objects". These objects will perhapes include some of the things in the Wolfsonian, Smithsonian, and may exclude most (if not all) of the things on display during Art Basel - unless they physically survive as tangable things, or virtually as relevant ideas of things that had existed physically.

If a frozen MAC is dug up after another ice age will this be a "Gates", or will it be called American art?

Thus it seems possible that this lap-top that I'm currently typing on is symbioticaly related to Summarian Votive figures; yet if I leave my documents, files, and images in it , and if is 'lasts' it we be a personalized jade leonine figure.

Why then is the name of the individual as attributed to/with the thing important and not just the thing as itself - be it categorized as either beautiful or sublime ?

This is a retorical question.



November 14, 2006, 11:10 AM

While my comment is not as long as that before me...

These are quite nice.



November 15, 2006, 10:20 PM

I'm not a writer Caleb. ( do you mean Celebrity?)
I also think that these are beautiful and have been greatly influenced by them holistically - if you could get the subtext of my fragmented statement you will understand. Again, I am not a writer in the formal sense.



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