The exhibition Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997) includes a selection of around 150 works by Xie Zhiliu (pronounced "shay jer-leo"), one of modern China's leading traditional artists and a preeminent connoisseur of painting and calligraphy. The rare trove of unfinished material on view demonstrates how studying and copying earlier models were as much a part of Chinese artistic tradition as learning from nature.
Curator Maxwell Hearn describes his ideas for the exhibition, comparing it to a recipe book for making Chinese art. Xie received a traditional Chinese artistic education, which combined the two disciplines of copying the work of earlier masters and drawing directly from life. His finished paintings, like those of many other Chinese artists, appear to be freehand creations; however, unlike many artists, Xie preserved numerous copies and sketches he made throughout his career, revealing how a seemingly spontaneous composition could be preceded by one or more sketches and drafts. In telling the story of Xie's development as an artist, and in describing the process of his work, Hearn illuminates the creation of the spontaneous fluidity that characterizes Chinese painting.
Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon Curator, Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Learn more about the exhibition Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997):
Learn more about Chinese painting in the twentieth century on the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: