He professed that his idols remained the venerable

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Unformatted text preview: distances in the walking , and backgrounds in the running. Sung monochrome painting appealed particularly to the medieval Japanese because its medium of black ink was so compatible with the cold, withered, and lonely tastes of the age. In the first phase of painting in the Sung manner during the fourteenth century, Japanese artists devoted themselves primarily to portrait and figure work; but in the fifteenth century they turned increasingly to landscapes. Among the greatest masters of monochromatic ink work of the fifteenth century was Shûbun (d. 1450), a Zen priest of the Shòkokuji, one of the Gozan or Five Zen Temples of Kyoto. Although Shûbun, who was active during the second quarter of the century, is reputed to have painted many different subjects in a variety of mediums, the only extant works attributed to him are landscapes, mostly on folding screens and sliding doors. A typical Shûbun landscape is “visionary” in that it is a depiction, derived wholly from imagination, of a scene set in China (fig. 36). Like that of other Japanese artists of his time, Shûbun’s work is also impressionistic, since space is not clearly differentiated (that is, it is difficult to judge the relative depths of the various sections of a painting) and mountains, cliffs, and other pictorial elements often appear to be suspended or not properly integrated with the rest of the landscape. By contrast, Sung-style landscapes by Chinese artists are notable for the care with which they are constructed: foregrounds, middle distances, and backgrounds are clearly distinguishable and all parts of a picture “fit together” into a coherent reproduction, albeit stylized, of a view from nature. Thus there appears to have been a fundamental difference in the approach to landscape between the Sung-style Chinese artist and such Japanese painters as Shûbun, a difference that seems to consist in the fact that Fig. 36 Landscape attributed to Shûbun (Seattle Art Museum) 132 The Canons of Medieval Taste the Chinese artist was as much concerne...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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