Hidden Qing dynasty art revealed
September 4 , 2008 -- Ancient art from China's Qing dynasty, hidden for years during the Cultural Revolution, will soon be on display at SF State's Museum of Ancient Civilizations. The exhibition tells the story of Chinese religion, culture, family and architecture from the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China that dates from 1644 through 1911.
The collection of rescued relics is on loan from SF State Professor of Humanities George Leonard, who purchased the items in Beijing flea markets. "We saw the Qing dynasty laid out in front of us in the dirt," said Leonard, who has taught and lived in China off and on since the 1980s and shares the collection with his son. "When private enterprise sprang up in China in the mid 1990s, peasants came to Beijing to sell scrolls that they had hidden in their homes, going against Mao's orders to destroy all trace of history."
With more than a dozen scroll portraits, a series of carved wooden statues and a collection of crafts, "Dynasty: The Ancestral Arts of China" captures daily life in the Qing dynasty. The exhibition includes ancestral portraits that were central in family life in the Qing era, paintings of nobility and three massive wooden ceiling carvings depicting scenes from the Chinese Opera.
"Anyone who enjoyed the fine Ming dynasty art at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum will be fascinated to see this exhibition and to discover that the quality of art continued into the Qing dynasty, which follows the Ming era," said Leonard who teaches courses in humanism and mysticism. When the exhibition opened for a month last spring, Leonard used it to bring Daoism and Confucianism to life for his students.
The collection will once again be open to the campus community and the public Sept. 8 through Sept. 12. The exhibition was produced by students and faculty from SF State's Museum Studies Program, which manages The Museum of Ancient Civilizations.
On Sept. 12, philosopher and art historian David Carrier will deliver a public lecture exploring portraits in Eastern and Western art. Once a protégé of art critic Arthur Danto, Carrier is the Champney Family Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. He has written extensively on Western art, focusing on Warhol, Proust and Baudelaire. "David Carrier delights in making established thinkers and theories collide with each other, and he is sure to deliver an energetic lecture," Leonard said.
-- "Dynasty: The Ancestral Arts of China" is open Sept. 8-12, noon to 4 p.m. Museum of Ancient Civilizations, HUM 510, San Francisco State University. For further information call Museum Studies (415) 405-0599.
-- "Meditations on a Chinese Ancestor Portrait," a talk by David Carrier, will take place Sept 12. 1-2:30 p.m. in HUM 587. This free event is open to the public and will be followed by a catered reception in the Museum of Ancient Civilizations (HUM 510).
-- Elaine Bible
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