Tuesday, June 7, 2011
How One Chinese Scroll Painting Is Like a Celebrity Sex Tape (With a Commentary Track!)
The celebrity sex tape seems to be a modern phenomenon, but long before voyeurs could download the peccadilloes of Paris and Pam there was The Night Banquet of Han Xizai. A landmark of Chinese scroll painting, The Night Banquet tells the sordid story of a political advisor to the emperor. In The Night Banquet: A Chinese Scroll through Time, De-nin D. Lee not only delves into the juicy details of the painting itself, but also explains how the stamps and text added by owners of the scroll over the centuries don’t deface the work (as Westerners would think) but, instead, add to the experience—as if the “sex tape” came with its own “commentary track.” Lee’s commentary brings both the banquet itself back to life and all those who have taken a peek at the proceedings since that long-ago dynasty. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How One Chinese Scroll Painting Is Like a Celebrity Sex Tape (With a Commentary Track!)."
[Many thanks to the University of Washington Press for providing me with a review copy of De-nin D. Lee’s The Night Banquet: A Chinese Scroll through Time.]