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"Intimate Pleasures - Asian Handscrolls and The Four Seasons in Asian Painting "
2001-06-05 until 2001-08-19
Saint Louis Art Museum
St. Louis, MO, USA

The Saint Louis Art Museum's Asian collection celebrates summer with the concurrent exhibitions Intimate Pleasures - Asian Handscrolls and The Four Seasons in Asian Painting. Both are drawn from the Museum's holdings of Chinese and Japanese art.

Intimate Pleasures focuses on the unusual fonnat of the Asian hand scroll. Holding and unrolling a hand scroll is considered by connoisseurs to be the most enjoyable and satisfying way to view a calligraphy or painting. Small enough to put in the sleeve of a traditional robe, the hand scroll was portable and could be carried around to share with friends while having tea or wine. It was popular with artists who exploited the hand scroll's horizontal format for its inherent narrative character and limitless rhythmic compositional opportunities.

The Four Seasons in Asian Painting explores the seasonal aspect of Asian painting and its cultural importance in both China and Japan. Key to agriculture, festivals, and customs, artists marked the seasons with poetry, calligraphy, and painting. Traditionally, the turning of the seasons determined the theme of artworks displayed in homes and semi-public places like temples and restaurants. Flowering trees and plants as well as insects and animals were favorite subjects. For example, the lotus blossom and dragonfly were not merely symbols of summer but also a chance for the artist to paint images meant to bring to mind the sensations of long, hot, humid days, the sounds of cicadas buzzing high in the trees, the refreshing tastes of summer foods, and all the subtle cultural aspects of that season.


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