WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA.- Masterworks of Chinese Painting: In Pursuit of Mists and Clouds is a remarkable exhibition drawing on the superlative collections made by world-renowned Chinese art historian James Cahill. For over 50 years, Professor Emeritus James Cahill acquired Chinese paintings for the University of California, Berkeley Museum and his own family collections. The exhibition includes 55 paintings in traditional Chinese formats-hanging scrolls, fan paintings, hand scrolls, and album leaves-dating from the 12th to the 20th century. Images of birds and flowers, figures from history and legend, and monumental landscapes testify to the extraordinary beauty and ancient traditions of Chinese painting. The exhibition will be on view at the Norton Museum of Art from October 16, 2004-January 9, 2005. To complement the exhibition, the Norton will be displaying its most important painting from the permanent collection, Tang Yin's (1470-1523) hanging scroll, The Nine Bends River (Purchase, the R.H. Norton Trust, 62.8).
John Finlay, the Norton's Elizabeth B. McGraw Curator of Chinese Art, comments, " This wonderful exhibition complements our own collection of Chinese art. Our founder, Ralph Norton concentrated on acquiring jades, bronzes, and Chinese ceramics. This exhibition is a rare occasion to be able to see the myriad forms of Chinese painting."
Professor Cahill's seminal work, "Chinese Painting," published in 1960, was the inspiration for John Finlay to enter the world of Chinese art. Finlay will give a lecture for Museum Members on Friday, October 15, 2004, entitled "Chinese Painting: The Basics. Charles Mason of the Harn Museum in Gainsville (a former student of Professor Cahill) will lecture on January 9, 2005. Family activities will include First Saturday Family Studios and Sunday Fundays featuring, Chinese painting Feng Shui, kite making and Chinese cooking.
Professor Cahill's Collecting Philosophy: "It is like clouds and mists passing before my eyes, or the songs of birds striking my ears. How could I help but derive joy from my contact with these things? But when they are gone, I think no more about them. In this way, these two things [painting and calligraphy] are a constant pleasure to me, but not an affliction." -Su Dongpo, eleventh-century statesman, poet, and connoisseur, on collecting. Translation by James Cahill.
Professor Cahill began collecting Chinese paintings in 1955 while on a Fulbright fellowship in Japan, where he was completing his dissertation on fourteenth-century (Yuan) painting. It was there that a noted Japanese scholar bestowed on him the name Ching Yüan Chai, which roughly translates as "Studio of One Who Is Looking Intently at the Yuan Dynasty." Throughout his long teaching career, James Cahill used these collections as a means of gaining a better personal understanding of art, as an opportunity to explore areas of connoisseurship, and as a tool for teaching others these same disciplines. For Cahill, collecting enriched the scope and depth of his comprehension of the intricacies of Chinese painting and culture. Cahill has remarked, "Collecting has deepened my understanding of Chinese painting-forcing me to make judgments of quality and authenticity."