Photographs of rocks may look like a tough promote, however Jonathan M. Singer’s good-looking ebook Spirit Stones: The Ancient Art of the Scholar’s Rock (Abbeville Press) makes a robust case that students’ rocks are value considering.
As with unique flowers and bonsai timber (topics of Singer’s earlier research), these specimens are produced by nature however handled like artwork—by the photographer and by the Chinese tradition that has cherished them for hundreds of years.
The almost one hundred fifty items proven right here in black and white are from the gathering of Kemin Hu, an professional on students’ stones whose insightful introduction explains the standards for a great rock.
Reproduced typically at life measurement, the stones recommend all the things from tiny mountain ranges to grotesque monsters. These resemblances are confirmed by their poetic names, included in an illustrated index. One stone, referred to as The Lotus That Has Just Sprung into Blossom from the Water, is a slender, vertical linglong (beautiful) Ying stone made from limestone from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and was partially formed by hand.
While rocks within the West are often cherished for his or her rarity, measurement, and shade, “Easterners say that students’ stones share a telepathic reference to human souls,” writes Hu. Learning to see soulful qualities in these nonliving objects by understanding their lengthy-operating significance in Chinese tradition is likely one of the pleasures of this ebook.
We discover out that all through the primary and second golden ages of stone connoisseurship—starting within the Tang dynasty (618–907) and reaching into the current—tastes in students’ stones have advanced as demand has exhausted the availability of some specimens. And types go in and out of trend. Lingbi and Taihu stones have been collected for hundreds of years, however Moer, a clean, darkish specimen present in deep water, was named after twentieth-century sculptor Henry Moore, a collector of gongshi, or “revered stones.”
Shipu, we study in Thomas S. Elias’s brief and helpful historical past, are books of description, poetry, or artwork devoted to stones. The first was revealed between 300 b.c. and a.d. one hundred, as a part of an encyclopedia of details concerning the recognized world. Elegant and informative, Singer’s e-book is the newest on this lengthy line.
A model of this story initially appeared within the May 2014 problem of ARTnews on web page 50 beneath M:00 pm – Source: artnews.com