Museum  January 3, 2018

LACMA Displays Rare Handscroll for the First Time in America

Photo © Ornan Rotam, Courtesy Slyph Editions.

Wu Bin, Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone, China, Ming dynasty, Wanli reign, 1610, private collection.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is pleased to present Wu Bin’s Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone, featuring one of the most extraordinary paintings of a stone ever created. In ancient China, strange and marvelous stones were valued for their beauty and as reflections of the hidden structures underlying the universe. Stones were seen as fluid and dynamic, constantly changing, and capable of magical transformations. Wu Bin’s Ming dynasty handscroll, painted in 1610, comprises 10 separate views of a single stone from the famous site of Lingbi, Anhui Province. Each view is rendered with exceedingly complex brushwork as fine lines twist, waver, and unravel, describing the shifting shapes of the stone’s peaks, vales, crevices, and caverns. These lines combine with subtle washes of ink to convey the sense that one is looking not at stone, but at pure energy.

LACMA’s presentation marks the first time that all 10 sections of this rare handscroll painting will be displayed in an American museum. The exhibition features several superb examples of actual Chinese stones and contemporary Chinese ink paintings depicting stones; and explores the history of collecting strange stones in China and the relationship between stones, Daoist cosmology, and classical Chinese poetry. Wu Bin is organized by Stephen Little, the Florence and Harry Sloan Curator of Chinese Art and Head of Chinese and Korean, and South and Southeast Asian Art at LACMA.

“This exhibition is an exciting opportunity to examine the 2,000-year practice of collecting strange stones (guai shi) in China,” says Little. “It will be the first exhibition of its kind in Los Angeles to explore the significance of stones in China and their centrality in Chinese culture.”

Wu Bin’s Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone is on view in the Resnick Pavillion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through June 24, 2018.

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