Preserving Antiquity

Nicolette Alexandra Lange


This paper will examine three distinct reactions to the complex question of how to preserve the age-old practice and visual aesthetic of traditional Chinese landscape painting, shanshui, in the face of foreign influence and rapid cultural change. Under discussion here are the reactions of late Ming painter Wang Shimin (1592-1680), contemporary Chinese photographer Yang Yongliang (b. 1980), and contemporary American photographer Michael Cherney (b. 1969). Wang Shimin, Yang Yongliang, and Michael Cherney all believe that if Chinese landscape painting is not preserved and passed down to younger generations, China will lose an essential part of its cultural heritage. Despite this shared belief, however, the manner in which these three men depict and interpret the Chinese landscape during times of tumultuous change are unique to and reflective of their time, cultural identity, and relative attachment to their subject matter.

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