Skip over navigation
Tang Center Publications

September 2017
Around Chigusa: Tea and the Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan
Dora C.Y. Ching, Louise Allison Cort, and Andrew M. Watsky, eds.
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

Around Chigusa investigates the cultural and artistic milieu in which a humble jar of Chinese origin dating to the thirteenth or fourteenth century became Chigusa, a revered, named object in the practice of formalized tea presentation (chanoyu) in sixteenth-century Japan. This tea-leaf storage jar lies at the nexus of interlocking personal networks, cultural values, and aesthetic idioms in the practice and appreciation of tea, poetry, painting, calligraphy, and Noh theater during this formative period of tea culture. The book’s essays set tea in dialogue with other cultural practices, revealing larger cultural paradigms that informed the production, circulation, and reception of the artifacts used and displayed in tea. Key themes include the centrality of tea to the social life of and interaction among warriors, merchants, and courtly elite; the multi-faceted relationship between things wa (Japanese) and kan (Chinese) and between tea and poetry; the rise of new formats for display of the visual and calligraphic arts; and collecting and display as an expression of political power.

Dora C. Y. Ching is associate director of the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University. She is coeditor of numerous books including The Family Model in Chinese Art and Culture; and Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong; (both Princeton). Louise Allison Cort is curator for ceramics at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Her books include Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics; and Shigaraki: Potter’s Valley;. Andrew M. Watsky is professor of Japanese art and archaeology at Princeton University. He is the author of Chikubushima: Deploying the Sacred Arts in Momoyama Japan. He and Cort coedited Chigusa and the Art of Tea.

December 2015
Preserving the Dharma: Hōzan Tankai and Japanese Buddhist Art of the Early Modern Era
John M. Rosenfield
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

In this beautifully illustrated book, eminent art historian John Rosenfield explores the life and art of the Japanese Buddhist monk Hōzan Tankai (1629–1716). Through a close examination of sculptures, paintings, ritual implements, and primary documents, the book demonstrates how the Shingon prelate’s artistic activities were central to his important place in the world of late-seventeenth-century Japanese Buddhism. At the same time, the book shows the richness of early modern Japanese Buddhist art, which has often been neglected and undervalued.

Tankai was firmly committed to the spiritual disciplines of mountain Buddhism—seclusion, severe asceticism, meditation, and ritual. But in the 1680s, after being appointed head of a small, run-down temple on the slopes of Mount Ikoma, near Nara, he revealed that he was also a gifted artist and administrator. He embarked on an ambitious campaign of constructing temple halls and commissioning icons, and the Ikoma temple, soon renamed Hōzanji, became a vibrant center of popular Buddhism, as it remains today. He was a remarkably productive artist, and by the end of his life more than 150 works were associated with him.

A major reconsideration of a key artistic and religious figure,  Preserving the Dharma brings much-needed attention to an overlooked period of Japanese Buddhist art.

John M. Rosenfield (1924–2013) was the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor Emeritus of East Asian Art at Harvard University and curator emeritus of Asian art at the Harvard University Art Museums. His recent publications include Portraits of Chōgen: The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan and extensive entries in Unrivalled Splendor: The Kimiko and John Powers Collection of Japanese Art.

November 2014
Art as History: Calligraphy and Painting as One
Wen C. Fong
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

This richly illustrated book provides an anthology and summation of the work of one of the world’s leading historians of Chinese painting and calligraphy. Wen Fong helped create the field of East Asian art history during a distinguished five-decade career at Princeton University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Few if any writers in English have such a broad knowledge of the history and practice of calligraphy and Chinese painting. In this collection of some of his most recent essays, Fong gives a sweeping tour through the history of Chinese painting and calligraphy as he offers new and revised views on a broad range of important subjects.

The topics addressed include “art as history,” in which each art object preserves a moment in art’s own significant history; the museum as a place of serious study and education; the close historical relationship between calligraphy and painting and their primacy among Chinese fine arts; the parallel development of representational painting and sculpture in early painting history; the greater significance of brushwork, seen abstractly as a means of personal expression by the artist, in later painting history; the paradigmatic importance of the master-to-follower lineage—of genealogy as a social force—in shaping the continuity and directing the subtle changes in Chinese painting history; the role of collectors; and the critical necessity of authenticated works for establishing an accurate art history

Throughout the book, Fong skillfully combines close analysis and detailed contextualization of individual works to reveal how the study of Chinese painting and calligraphy yields deep insights about Chinese culture and history.

January 2014
Art and Archaeology of the Erligang Civilization
Edited by Kyle Steinke with Dora C.Y. Ching
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

Named after an archaeological site discovered in 1951 in Zhengzhou, China, the Erligang civilization arose in the Yellow River valley around the middle of the second millennium BCE. Shortly thereafter, its distinctive elite material culture spread to a large part of China’s Central Plain, in the south reaching as far as the banks of the Yangzi River. The Erligang culture is best known for the remains of an immense walled city at Zhengzhou, a smaller site at Panlongcheng in Hubei, and a large-scale bronze industry of remarkable artistic and technological sophistication.

This richly illustrated book is the first in a western language devoted to the Erligang culture. It brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines, including art history and archaeology, to explore what is known about the culture and its spectacular bronze industry. The opening chapters introduce the history of the discovery of the culture and its most important archaeological sites. Subsequent essays address a variety of important methodological issues related to the study of Erligang, including how to define the culture, the usefulness of cross-cultural comparative study, and the difficulty of reconciling traditional Chinese historiography with archaeological discoveries. The book closes by examining the role the Erligang civilization played in the emergence of the first bronze-using societies in south China and the importance of bronze studies in the training of Chinese art historians.

July 2013
The Family Model in Chinese Art and Culture
Edited by Jerome Silbergeld and Dora C.Y. Ching
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

The family model has been central to patterns of social organization and cultural articulation throughout Chinese history, influencing all facets of the content and style of Chinese art. With contributors drawn from the disciplines of art history, anthropology, psychiatry, history, and literature, this volume explores the Chinese concept of family and its impact upon artistic production. In essays ranging from the depiction of children to adult portraiture, through literary constructions of gender and the psychodynamics of cinema, authors consider the historical foundations of the family—both real and ideal—in ancient China, discuss the perpetuation of this model in later Chinese history and modern times, and analyze how family paradigms informed and intersected with art and literature.

December  2012
Crossing the Sea: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Yoshiaki Shimizu
Edited by Gregory P.A. Levine, Andrew M. Watsky, and Gennifer Weisenfeld
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

Yoshiaki Shimizu, one of the foremost scholars of Japanese art history, taught Japanese art history at Princeton University for more than twenty-five years, during which time he trained many students who have become respected professors and museum professionals. Crossing the Sea gathers essays by thirteen of these students in honor of Shimizu’s extraordinary career at Princeton, as well as his teaching at other institutions and his work as curator of Japanese art at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Ranging in topics from premodern Buddhist, narrative, and ink painting in Japan and East Asia to twentieth-century Japanese prints and popular visual images, these essays present innovative research that draws attention to remarkable works of Japanese art and their fascinating historical contexts and modern interpretations. Including reinterpretations of well-known works and richly developed accounts of their meaning and function in historical, religious, and cultural contexts, this volume provides a state-of-the-field portrait of Japanese art studies today.

June  2012
Commemorative Landscape Painting in China
Anne de Coursey Clapp
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

When is a landscape more than a landscape? This is a richly illustrated study of an important genre of Ming-dynasty Chinese painting in which landscapes are actually disguised portraits that celebrate an individual and his achievements,ambitions, and tastes in an open effort to win recognition, support, and social status. In this unique study, Anne de Coursey Clapp presents a broad view of these commemorative landscape paintings, including antecedents in the Song and Yuan dynasties. This book traces how in commemorative landscape painting members of the literati address their peers in a deeply familiar language of values, just as they had for centuries through literary biography. Although the setting for such pictures is always natural landscape, it is secondary to the man, and its true function is to mirror him as the humanistic ideal of the recluse-scholar. This book shows how the literary associations attached to the new landscape increased during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), when the first commemorative paintings appeared,and flourished through the Ming (1368–1644), producing an art form that was simultaneously pictorial and verbal. In the course of exploring the sources and meaning of these paintings, the book examines several varieties of dedicatory paintings, including departure paintings and the interesting subgenre of “biehao,” in which portrait subjects are symbolized through pictorial representations of their literary names.

November 2011
Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong
Edited by Jerome Silbergeld, Dora C.Y. Ching, Judith G. Smith, and Alfreda Murck
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

Wen C. Fong established America’s first program in East Asian art history at Princeton University, where he taught Chinese art from 1954 to 1999. During this time, he supervised more than thirty PhDs, most of whom have gone on to hold professorships or museum positions throughout the United States, East Asia, and Europe. This two-volume book honors Professor Fong’s extraordinary half-century career at Princeton and The Metropolitan Museum of Art by gathering thirty-nine essays on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean art history, written by his students and by some of his lifelong colleagues in this field of study. These full-length essays address a wide range of subjects, building bridges in many directions, from early jades and bronzes through traditional painting and prints, to photography, cinema, and modern museum practice. The diversity, depth, and originality of these essays make this work a monumental contribution to the study of the arts of East Asia. The book includes an interview with Professor Fong, conducted by Jerome Silbergeld, and a bibliography of Fong’s work.

November 2010
ARTiculations: Undefining Chinese Contemporary Art
Edited by Jerome Silbergeld and Dora C.Y. Ching
Published by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press

What does it mean to say that some of the best Chinese contemporary art is made in America, by Americans? Through words and images, this book challenges the artificial and narrowly conceived definitions of Chinese contemporary art that dominate current discussion, revealing the great diversity of Chinese art today and showing just how complex and uncertain the labels “contemporary,” “Chinese,” and even “American” have become.

This volume features contributions from six artists and seven scholars who participated in a 2009 symposium held in conjunction with the Princeton University Art Museum exhibition Outside In: Chinese × American × Contemporary Art. Four of these artists are ethnically Chinese (some born in China, some in America), yet all are U.S. citizens. All of the artists are steeped in Chinese artistic traditions in terms of style, subject matter or philosophical outlook, and yet all of the works in the exhibition were made or conceived in the United States. Here they discuss their art and careers with rare depth and candor, addressing diversity, ethnicity, identity, and other issues. The academic contributors bring a variety of perspectives—Chinese and American, art historical and political—to bear on the common but limiting practice of classifying such art and artists as “Chinese,” “American,” or “Chinese American.” Revealing and celebrating the fluidity of who can be considered a Chinese artist and what Chinese art might be, these artists’ and scholars’ presentations broaden our understanding and appreciation of Chinese contemporary art.

Outside In
Outside In: Chinese × American × Contemporary Art
Jerome Silbergeld, Cary Y. Liu, Dora C.Y. Ching, et al.
Published by the Princeton University Art Museum and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, in association with Yale University Press

The art world is currently enthralled with contemporary Chinese art. This thought−provoking book argues, however, that American audiences have only been exposed to a narrow range of what is available−with the majority of exposure having been given to "avant−garde," "experimental," or politically charged art. Outside In discusses contemporary Chinese art in a far wider range of styles and subject matter and substantially expands on our understanding of this work.

The book features six artists−Arnold Chang, Michael Cherney, Zhi Lin, Liu Dan, Vannessa Tran, and Zhang Hongtu−all of whom are American citizens yet are widely diverse in age and experience as well as geographical and ethnic origins. In addition to extensive personal interviews and artists' statements, there are essays that challenge the categorization of art into such focused genres as "Chinese," "contemporary," and "American," and reexamine the factors that shape the development of "Chinese art" in America.

Body in Question
Body in Question: Image and Illusion in Two Chinese Films by Director Jiang Wen
Jerome Silbergeld
Published by the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, in association with Princeton University Press

In the Heat of the Sun and Devils on the Doorstep are two of the finest and most honored Chinese films ever made. Body in Question is the first book to examine these groundbreaking works in depth and one of the first books in English to study individual Chinese films in depth.

These two award-winning films by renowned director-actor Jiang Wen and cinematographer Gu Changwei are unsurpassed in China for their exquisite attention to realistic detail, their stylistic range, their emotional breadth, and their razor-like commentary on contemporary China. In scenes that range from hilarious to horrific, China's ruling elite and its complicated relationship with Japan are subjected to the filmmakers' ironic treatment and profound concern with social justice. In the Heat of the Sun has become unavailable, and Devils on the Doorstep has been suppressed by the Chinese government.

Jerome Silbergeld gives these two important films careful and extended study in Body in Question. He uses cinema and photography, political history, anthropology and philosophy, Chinese rhetorical traditions, and concepts of justice to explore the films' visual complexity and intellectual force, providing a unique look at the artistry and pressing concerns of Chinese cinema today. An accompanying DVD includes major clips from both films.

Rethinking Recarving
Rethinking Recarving: Ideals, Practices, and Problems of the "Wu Family Shrines" and Han China
Cary Y. Liu, Michael Loewe, Lydia Thompson, Zheng Yan, Susan N. Erickson, Klaas Ruitenbeek, Jiang Yingju, Miranda Brown, Michael Nylan, Hsing I-tien, Eileen Hsiang-ling Hsu, Lillian Lan-ying Tseng, and Qianshen Bai
Published by the the Princeton University Art Museum, in association with Yale University Press

The "Wu Family Shrines" pictorial carvings from Han dynasty China (206 BCE−220 CE) are among the earliest works of Chinese art examined in an international arena. Since the eleventh century, the carvings have been identified by scholars as one of the most valuable and authentic materials for the study of antiquity. This important book presents essays by archaeologists, art and architectural historians, curators, and historians that reexamine the carvings, adding to our understanding of the long cultural history behind them and to our knowledge of Han practices.

The authors offer a thorough analysis of surviving physical and visual sources, invoking fresh perspectives from new disciplines.  Essays address the ideals, practices, and problems of the "Wu Family Shrines" and Han China; Han funerary art and architecture in Shandong and other regions; architectural functions and carved meanings; Qing Dynasty Reception of the Wu Family Shrines; and more.

Text as Image in the Art of Xu Bing
Edited by Jerome Silbergeld and Dora C. Y. Ching
Published by the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, in association with Princeton University Press

The calligrapher and book artist Xu Bing has been called the most innovative Chinese artist of our time. As a citizen of both China and the United States and the first Asian-American artist to win the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius award," Xu Bing has fascinated and challenged audiences around the world with his imaginative textual art. From his 4,000 unreadable Chinese-looking characters, which unite Asian and Western audiences alike in an egalitarianism of induced illiteracy, to his invention of a "square words" language that makes "Chinese" readable by anyone at all, Xu Bing's use of language is at once artistically brilliant, highly entertaining, and profoundly subversive-a sharp-witted, masterly word-play that, in his own words, "strikes at the very essence of culture."

In exhibitions on four continents, Xu Bing's printed art, mixed-media installations, and performance pieces-from books and calligraphic sculptures to inscribed pigs-have fascinated specialists and general audiences alike and generated a growing body of literature. This volume presents the first multidisciplinary study of Xu Bing's art and its intellectual implications. Included is an illuminating account by Xu Bing of his own work, as well as essays by leading scholars in a number of different fields. The essays address the place of this work within the long history of Chinese calligraphic practice, examine it in the context of Chinese intellectual dissidence, discuss Japanese avant-garde parallels, and judge it from a Western art-historical viewpoint. The contributors are Hal Foster, Robert E. Harrist, Jr., Perry Link, and Gennifer Weisenfeld.

Publications in progress

Visualizing Dunhuang
Edited by Dora C.Y. Ching

Chigusa in Context: In and Around Chanoyu in Sixteenth-Century Japan
Edited by Andrew Watsky, Louise Cort, and Dora C.Y. Ching