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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics


Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.


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Space-consciousness in Chinese Art: Tsung Paihwa 31


Space-consciousness in Chinese Art Tsung Paihwa The German philosopher, Oswald Spengler, postulated in his famous work, "Der Untergang des Abendlandes," that each independent culture creates out of itself certain basic symbols (Ursymbole). Thus he considers the "way" (Weg) the fundamental symbol of the Egyptian culture, while the "body" (Koerper) and "infmite space" (unendliche Raum) appear to him the fundamental symbols of ancient Greece and the "Faustian" German cultures respectively. These three fundamental symbols depend directly on space and fmd their concrete expression in art. We may acquaint ourselves more profoundly with their various natures, therefore, if we study severally the architectural structure of the Egyptian pyramid, Greek sculpture and Rembrandt's oil paintings. I think it would be interesting to adopt this view in studying space-consciousness as expressed in painting and poetry, particularly if we go one step further and attempt also a comparison of cultures other than Mediterranean. Since the tin1e of the early European Renaissance oil painting has closely adhered to realism, the depiction of the human body and of space as expressed in the architectural structure of human dwellings. Here the artist adopts a scientific outlook, conscious of tlle subtlety of chiaroscuro, and giving rise to the use of perspective in painting. In the beginning of the 14th century perspective was executed to the point of perfection in the works of Brunelleschi and in 1436 a treatise on the subject appeared, the "Trattato della pintura," by 1. Battista Alberti. 32 Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics The Chinese looked on perspective...

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