Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art

I had the pleasure of re-discovering
The Cleveland Museum of Art this summer.
Admission to the museum is free!
(Parking in the garage is not, but if you arrive
early, parking on the street for free may be possible)

I was pleased to discover that
on the day we would be visiting,
there was an exhibition of Asian art,
one of my favorites.
The exhibit was called
"The Lure of Painted Poetry."
Click on any image to enlarge.

Above, the listing of other exhibits...
I didn't have time to see them all as
carefully as I would like. 

The Asian exhibit was breathtaking.  The lighting
in the gallery was very low in order to avoid damage
to the fragile paintings on silk and paper.
Most of the work was quite faded, in muted
tones of black, brown, and sometimes a little color.
But after all, some of the work was dated
as early as 1470, during the Ming dynasty!
The economy of line in these inked scrolls
was impressive, suggesting so much
with just enough line, form and space.

Postcard- 'Old Pine Tree'

One of my favorite motifs is the somewhat 
scraggly trees clinging to the sides of mountains.
I seem to remember from my college art history classes
that these represent the 'spirit of tenacity'
in both nature and mankind...
surviving life's storms with dignity.

Post card - 'One of Eight Views of Xiao and Xiang Rivers, 1788

I had my index cards with me and took a few notes,
and made a few tiny sketches.  As I began to sketch
a tree from one of the scrolls, a museum guard came over
and said, "Ma'am, we've been instructed not to permit
sketching in the exhibit. I'm sorry."  
How embarrassing.  No photographs I understand.
But no sketching? Seriously?
I guess they wanted to sell more exhibition books 
in their gallery shop.  I was quite nonplussed.

Post card- One of Eight Views of Xiao and Xiang Rivers, 1788

I had earlier seen a mother and two elementary-aged 
daughters in the same exhibit, sketching in little journals
and thought how wonderful that the mother was encouraging
such an appreciation for art. I wonder
if they got 'caught' too? Sketching was permitted
throughout the rest of the museum.  I even saw
one gentleman doing a small painting of the
landscape painting in front of him.
I can only guess how long it had
taken him, but he was doing quite well, and
was almost finished when I saw his work.  

One of my favorite scrolls was quite a large piece,
which portrayed a "Painting Party."  Of course I 
can't find my notes on it now...but it was a lively
portrayal of calligraphy and landscape painters who
had gotten together to paint, view and evaluate
each other's work.  Brilliant!  Sounds like 
an event that I would love to attend.
Maybe something like a workshop, though I 
suspect there was no monetary charge...
In Asian art, carrying on the traditions of
generations of artists was an important aspect
of their art.  Perhaps that will be a post
for another day...

I also  thoroughly enjoyed viewing Picasso,
Van Gogh, Braque,  Matisse and Warhol.  It is quite
an excellent museum.  Just remember to ask a guard if
sketching is permitted, before you whip out your 
art journal and pen!


  1. I admit I have NEVER heard of anyone not being allowed to sketch in a museum, especially in areas where photos are not permitted. But since I'm not an artist or sketcher or painter, I never think to bring anything other than my camera and enough money to buy a few postcards (ones in my museums aren't free). I try to go to museums on days when they are free, and if they aren't free, I try to find a coupon I can use. I'm glad you had a great time for very, very little cash outlay. My kind of day out.

  2. My gosh, I love 'the old pine tree' ! This sounds like something I'd like to visit. I bet it was hushed and peaceful, with beautifully lighted pieces.

    Thanks for sharing these images.


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