About this artwork
Two figures sitting quietly in their lakeside villa draw us into their vibrantly painted environment—undulating hills of cursory, fragmented outline and blurry wash; bent and twisted trees of densely layered brushstrokes; and mist, water, and sky of blank paper. Executed with different angles of the paintbrush and multiple layers and varied densities of ink, paintings of such careful synthesis and sketch-like spontaneity describe what the artist Huang Binhong called “the order of disorder.”
Huang, who is recognized as one of China’s greatest twentieth-century masters, helped reinvigorate that country’s tradition of literati painting. He disdained stereotypical themes and styles that had become increasingly prevalent since the eighteenth century and looked to earlier artists for inspiration. Indeed, the inscription on this painting alludes to brushstrokes of “broken ink” demonstrated by eminent masters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Its limited use of color and caricature-like simplicity suggest that this painting dates to the late 1940s or early 1950s. By then, Huang had reached the pinnacle of his painting career and simultaneously distinguished himself as a connoisseur, scholar, poet, and publisher. Exceptional in his passion for and knowledge of both Western and Chinese art, he corresponded with Western intellectuals who appreciated his insights on the principles as well as practice of Chinese painting. They included Lucy Catherine Driscoll, a lecturer in art history and aesthetics at the University of Chicago, who had begun her career at the Art Institute as an educator and administrator.
Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Huang Binhong
- Album leaves; ink and color on paper
- 22 × 33.65 cm
- Gift of Mr. Jiang Ershi