Landscapes and trees

Gong Xian Chinese

Not on view

By the mid-1670s Gong Xian’s confidence as a painter had taught him to avoid an overly skillful or popular style. He wrote:

“Nowadays when people paint they do only what appeals to the common eye; I alone do not seek to please the present.”

In this album, both paintings and inscriptions attest to Gong’s striving after a spiritual communion with earlier masters while creating a pictorial vocabulary all his own. Departing from his densely textured, monumental landscape style of the 1660s, Gong moved toward a sparser manner in which each brushstroke is made to function calligraphically as well as descriptively, embodying both expressive and representational meaning. The album’s format—paintings accompanied by art-historical comments—reminds us that Gong Xian taught painting for a living.

#7625. Landscapes and Trees

Landscapes and trees, Gong Xian (Chinese, 1619–1689), Album of twelve leaves; ink on paper, China

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