Thursday, October 1, 2009

First-class snark from the Ming dynasty

From the painting critic Li Kaixian, writing in 1545:

Jiang Zicheng's painting is "like an Indian monk, his entire body clothed in precious objects, yet giving off a putrid odor."

Lin Liang is "like the sticks on a woodgatherer's back or the dried wood at the bottom of a stream - carpenters wouldn't even look at it."

Guo Xu "is like an old Confucian trying to learn farming: his strength is not equal to his fellows' and he grows more weeds than grain."

Wang E "is like an official of the Five Dynasties: his hat is of black silk but his person is that of a butcher."

Bonus, from He Liangjun, writing about twenty-five years later: "As for the likes of... Zhang Lu of the North, I would be ashamed to wipe my table with his paintings."

H/T: Richard Barnhart, "The 'Wild and Heterodox' School of Ming Painting," in Susan Bush and Christian Murck, eds., Theories of the Arts in China, Princeton University Press, 1983.


Natalia said...


mame said...

Much more to the point than some of those quasi intellectual attempts to discredit.

melinda said...

this is fantastic. sounds like they had TV writers' rooms back in the Ming dynasty: "can you BELIEVE that guy is still emperor?"