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"Art of Twentieth-Century Zen: Paintings"
1999-09-30 until 2000-01-02
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA, USA United States of America

This is the first exhibition in the United States to feature painted and calligraphic works by Japanese Zen masters of the past 100 years. It will include seventy-one scrolls, screens, and objects by fourteen of the most prominent Zen masters of the twentieth century. The art produced by these Zen masters is both dynamic and functional. There is a direct connection between painting and calligraphy and Zen teaching, as seen in the subject matter of the paintings, such as major Zen figures and scenes of enlightenment from the past, and the calligraphic inscriptions of short Zen texts.

It has long been believed in East Asia that brush and ink reveal the true character of the artist. Therefore, viewing a painting or calligraphy is a form of communication with the inner spirit of the person who created it. Zen masters believe that visual art can express and transmit what they call Zen Mind in a more direct manner than words alone. The most important Zen teachers of this century have all created painting and calligraphy in order to express their vision to their followers, and to leave a record of their teachings to future generations.

Zen art has long been acknowledged as among the priceless legacies of Japanese culture, but previous studies and exhibitions have focused upon works from earlier centuries. Twentieth-century Zen brushwork, however, is of special interest as a fully traditional form of Japanese visual art that has continued to flourish to the present day. This exhibition will reveal why there has been such a steadfast continuation of past Zen traditions in visual art during a period when many other forms of art were undergoing major changes in Japan. It will also focus upon fascinating variations and transformations of early subjects and styles in the painting and calligraphy of the most important Zen monk-artists of this century.

Credit Line: This exhibition, organized by the Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond, and co-curated by Audrey Yoshiko Seo and Stephen Addiss, is made possible in part with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency, and the University of Richmond Cultural Affairs Committee. Curators: Robert Singer, curator, and Hollis Goodall, associate curator of Japanese Art at LACMA


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