Archive for September, 2019

26
Sep
19

Exhibition: ‘Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th May – 13th October 2019

 

Censer 灰陶熏炉 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Censer
灰陶熏炉
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The best thing about this exhibition were the beautiful lidded containers, flasks, everyday vessels and censers; cows, sows, goats, mythical creatures and smaller soldiers. The female attendant was divine.

Other than that I refrain from comment for fear of incriminating myself!

(perhaps a yawn would suffice)

Marcus

 

Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All photographs are iPhone images © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Epic accounts of China’s ruling dynasties, philosophies, inventions and social customs during ancient times have been passed down through the centuries in the writings of philosophers, imperial scribes and military strategists. However, it was not until archaeologists in the twentieth century unearthed evidence – masterful bronzes, delicately crafted jades and boldly decorated ceramics – that the advanced levels of civilisation, artistry and refined aesthetics that existed in the past were more fully revealed. This provided a greater understanding of the rituals, social customs, preparation for the afterlife and quest for immortality that remained central to Chinese culture.

The greatest discovery of all was in 1974, when local farmers digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an, unearthed fragments of the terracotta warriors. With this astounding discovery the legends of ancient China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, were confirmed. In their size and number, the terracotta warriors are unique in world history and signify Qin Shihuang’s quest for immortality, his affiliation with China’s mythical rulers, and his supreme imperial mandate as the son of heaven.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding 陶胎漆鼎 Warring States period, 475 - 221 BCE

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding
陶胎漆鼎
Warring States period, 475 – 221 BCE
Lacquer on earthenware
Shangluo City Museum, Shangluo

 

Lidded container, He (left) 彩绘陶盒 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Lidded container, He (left)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Lidded container, He (right)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

Jar for storing grain (left) 彩绘陶仓 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Jar for storing grain (left)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Jar for storing grain (right)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

 

Ceramic ware with boldly painted decoration became widely used as substitutes for bronze vessels during the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The spontaneous and energetic decoration indicates they were produced in large numbers and therefore affordable to the general public. Vessels like these were used as utensils in daily life as well as modest tomb ware to contain provisions for the afterlife, like grain, wine and other foods. Ceramic ware like water pourers or incense burners also served as affordable utensils used in ceremonies and rituals.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

These Han dynasty ceramic vessels maintain the elegant shapes and decorative features of Zhou dynasty bronze vessels produced 1000 years earlier. Free-flowing painted designs reference nature motifs and auspicious subjects like clouds and dragons. The Four-sided flask displays ringed handles in solid relief on either side in a direct reference to identically shaped bronze vessels from the Zhou dynasty.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise 玄武纹空心砖 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise
玄武纹空心砖
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

The Qin state capital city changed location on numerous occasions before establishing its grandest city and ultimate capital at Xianyang in 350 BCE. Vast palaces were constructed with wooden structures and clay-tiled roofs. Palaces were decorated with magnificent murals that featured geometric and floral designs as well as figures and animals. At the fall of the Qin empire in 207 BCE, the palaces were destroyed, with the grandest of them, Epang Palace, so large it reportedly burned for more than three months. Today, nothing but foundations remain; however, an idea of their grandeur and decoration can be gained from bricks and roof tiles. Four of the bricks display the four protective spirits representing each of the cardinal directions: the turtle (north), dragon (east), vermilion bird (south) and tiger (west).

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

Ritual objects and ancestral treasures

Before the establishment of a nationally unified state by Emperor Qin Shihuang in 221 BCE, China had a long history of opposing kingdoms, self-governing territories and dynasties whose customs, beliefs and refined artisanship influenced the Qin dynasty and its creativity. Family prestige, social harmony and a belief in immortality and the afterlife were central to the creation of auspicious and ceremonial objects used for burial rituals, ancestor worship and encouraging good fortune. This gallery displays some of the most exquisitely crafted of these objects, produced from the beginning of the Zhou dynasty to the end of the Han dynasty (1046 BCE – 220 CE).

Jade was believed to possess magical powers that could maintain the human life force of air or breath after death, and beautifully carved jade objects would often accompany bodies in burial to help purify the deceased’s soul for its journey to the afterlife. Bronze objects with decorative motifs and inscriptions were created to represent a symbolic connection to China’s earliest dynasties and a ‘mandate from heaven’ to rule. Gold is thought to have been introduced to China from Central Asia and was mostly used for decoration on clasps, buckles and ceremonial objects.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Belt plaque 金牌饰 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Belt plaque
金牌饰
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Gold, jade, agate, turquoise
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

In contrast to jade, which symbolised wealth and spiritual purity, and bronze, used to produce ritual objects, gold was used to a lesser extent and served a primarily decorative purpose. The tradition of using gold for personal adornment is believed to have come to China from Central Asia, and gold became a favoured material from the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 475 BCE) onwards. Objects that represented personal status, such as belt hooks, belt plaques and personal adornments, were usually cast in solid gold and often featured stylised geometric dragon motifs and inlaid semiprecious stones like turquoise and agate.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou
四神兽面纹玉铺首
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Jade
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

This impressive door ring holder (pushou) in the form of a taotie mythological beast mask would support a large ring from its lower section and be positioned in the centre of doors or gateways. Its size is evidence of the grandeur of the palace or mausoleum building it once adorned. Its fierce appearance, with bulging eyes, was believed to ward off evil spirits, and its curling motifs ingeniously incorporate the four protective spirits in each corner. The four holy creatures are (clockwise from top left) the white tiger, the azure dragon, the vermilion bird and the black tortoise.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

In a dual presentation of Chinese art and culture past and present, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series at the National Gallery of Victoria will present China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang, at NGV International, May 2019.

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. The exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

These sculptures will be contextualised by an unprecedented Australian presentation of more than 150 exquisite ancient treasures of Chinese historic art and design lent by leading museums and archaeological sites from across Shaanxi province. These include priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts that date from the Western Zhou through to the Han dynasties (1046 BC – 220AD). Illuminating more than a millennium of Chinese history, the exhibition will showcase the magnificence and authority of the once-entombed figures and reveal, through the intricate display of accompanying objects and artefacts, the sophistication that characterised the formative years of Chinese civilisation.

Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, will see contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, create all new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds. Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. Cai will collaborate on the exhibition’s design, creating breathtaking immersive environments for the presentation of both his work and the Terracotta Warriors.

Drawing on Cai’s understanding of ancient Chinese culture and his belief that a dialogue with tradition and history can invigorate contemporary art, he will also create a monumental porcelain sculpture of peonies, placed at the centre of a 360-degree gunpowder drawing.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said: ‘Thirty-six years ago, in 1982, the National Gallery of Victoria presented the first international exhibition of China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors only several years after their discovery. History will be made again in 2019, when the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army will return to the NGV for the 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series – this time in a sophisticated dialogue with the work one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang.’

Of the parallel presentation, Cai said: ‘They are two rivers of time separated by two millennia, each creating a course at their own individual speed across a series of shared galleries. The ancient and the contemporary – two surges of energy that crisscross, pull, interact and complement each other, generating a powerful tension and contrast, each attracting and resisting the other.’

Jeff Xu, Founder and Managing Director, Golden Age Group said: ‘This exhibition will inspire Australian and international audiences to delve deeper into the many rich and diverse facets of China’s heritage. As Principal Partner, Golden Age is pleased to support such an ambitious world-exclusive showing in Victoria,  demonstrating our commitment to Melbourne as the cultural capital. We believe this exhibition will leave a lasting impression on this city for decades to come.’

This exhibition was organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum, Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum of the People’s Republic of China.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria [Online] Cited 14/07/2019

 

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured general
铠甲将军俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

This general, the largest of the terracotta warriors in the exhibition, has a distinguished beard and moustache and displays a stance of importance. His position of authority is indicated by his headdress, which is the same style as that of the adjacent unarmoured general, and is further enforced by decorative tassels on his chest and back that act as insignias of rank. Generals and other high-ranking officers wore long armoured tunics that tapered from the waist to a triangular shape at the front, protecting their vital organs.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured military officer
中级铠甲军吏俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Standing warriors weigh between 150 and 300 kilograms and usually consist of seven different parts: a plinth, feet, legs, torso, arms, hands and head. Clay was kneaded by foot, and the torso section was built up with a coil layering technique. Other parts were created by pressing soft clay into moulds, in a process similar to making roof tiles or drainage pipes. To give each warrior a unique appearance, different moulds were used and the position of fingers and arms was manipulated while the clay was soft. Folds of clothing or armour plates were added to the torso, and head features were developed with additional small pieces of clay to define the cheekbones, chin, ears, nose and hair.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Standing archer
立射俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The release of energy and sense of movement at the moment of firing an arrow results in archers displaying the most elegant and dramatic stances of all the terracotta warriors. The standing archer’s feet are slightly parted for balance, and he stares intently into the distance as if following the flight of an arrow just released from his bow. Displaying the topknot and braiding of a warrior, he wears a simple gown that allows freedom of movement. When created, the warriors were painted in bright colours and coated with lacquer, but this colouring had mostly been lost by the time of their excavation. New techniques of colour preservation are currently being developed at the terracotta warriors site.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Unarmoured infantryman 战袍武士俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Unarmoured infantryman
战袍武士俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Unarmoured or light infantrymen are distinguished by their hair gathered in a top knot and their absence of armour. Their simple robes and low-slung belts give them a less military appearance; however, their half-closed right hand would have originally held a sword. We can clearly see that this figure has been reconstructed from many small broken parts. Of more than 2000 warriors unearthed to date, none have been discovered intact. It is speculated that shortly after their completion at the fall of the Qin dynasty, the victorious Han entered the terracotta warriors’ underground passages, smashed the contents and set the wooden passages on fire.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

Terracotta warriors

The discovery of the terracotta warriors, one of the most significant archaeological finds of the twentieth century, was made by chance. In March 1974, seeking water during a period of drought, local farmers began digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an. Little more than a metre below ground, they unearthed fragments of the terracotta army, including a warrior’s head and a group of bronze arrowheads. Had the farmers commenced their digging a metre to the east, the warriors may have remained undetected.

The enormous tomb mound of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, is located 1.5 kilometres from the terracotta warriors. While this has been the Qin emperor’s recognised tomb site over the centuries, astoundingly the creation of the warriors who guarded it was never recorded and knowledge of their existence was lost over time. It was recorded that the emperor employed and conscripted up to 700,000 workers to construct his mausoleum, the terracotta army and other buried items, making it the largest and most ambitious mausoleum construction in China’s history. To date, approximately 2000 of an estimated 8000 warriors have been excavated, and the pieces on display here represent the variety of individuals created, their positions within the army and their styles of apparel.

 

The first emperor’s mausoleum, according to the grand historian

Han dynasty historian and scribe Sima Qian (145 – 86 BCE) wrote a detailed account of the construction and interior of Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum in his text Records of the Grand Historian – Basic Annals of Qin:

‘In the ninth month, the First Emperor was interred at Mount Li. When he first came to the throne, the digging and preparation work began. Later, when he had unified China, 700,000 men were sent there from all over the empire. They dug through three layers of groundwater, and poured in bronze for the outer coffin. Palaces and scenic towers for a hundred officials were constructed, and the tomb was filled with rare artefacts and wonderful treasure. Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who entered the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above were representations of the heavenly constellations, below were the features of the land. Candles were made from fat of “man-fish”, calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: “It would be inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free”, [and] ordered that they should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the mechanical devices and knew of its treasures were to divulge those secrets.

Therefore after the funeral ceremonies had completed and the treasures [had been] hidden away, the inner passageway was blocked, and the outer gate lowered, immediately trapping all the workers and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetation were then planted on the tomb mound such that it resembles a hill.’

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured military officer
中级铠甲军吏俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Civil official
文官俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

In preparation for the afterlife, Emperor Qin Shihuang not only produced a terracotta army for his protection, but also ceramic administrators to look after government and civil affairs. This terracotta figure was discovered at a site adjacent to the emperor’s tomb, more than a kilometre from the terracotta army. Twelve civil officials were discovered, as well as the bones of twenty actual horses, one chariot and one charioteer. The officials all feature moustaches and a small tuft of chin hair and wear small hats believed to symbolise their status as officials or public conveyances. The attire of some civil officials includes baggy robes and a belt from which a pouch (presumably carrying a sharpening stone) and knife (to inscribe bamboo slats used for record keeping) hang.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Chariot horse
车马
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Horses were fundamental to the strength of Chinese rulers and sacrificial horse burials had been practised since the Shang dynasty (c. 1600 – 1046 BCE). This is particularly notable at the tomb of Duke Jing of Qi (reigned 547 – 490 BCE), which contained a pit with the remains of over 600 horses. At several separate excavation sites in the vicinity of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s tomb, the remains of real horses and chariots have been discovered. However, the first emperor is significantly noted as the first to create life-sized horse replicas as an integral part of the terracotta army’s military formation. While the adjacent horse features a hole on each side to prevent cracking during firing, this example was ventilated through its detachable tail.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

 

Tomb gate
画像石
Eastern Han dynasty, 25 – 220 CE
Stone, pigments
Suide County Museum

 

 

This graphically decorated tomb gate depicts animated events and scenes of daily life typical of the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The lintel displays a hunting scene with men on horseback galloping at full speed – some with lances and others shooting arrows – in pursuit of wild animals. The inner left and right supports feature images of people wrestling, playing instruments, nursing children, performing acrobatics, walking with a horse, carrying goods or climbing stairs. Mythical birds, creatures and people are pictured on the rooftops and on the curling vines of the outer supports.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Mythical creatures 石兽 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Mythical creatures 石兽 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

 

Mythical creatures
石兽
Eastern Han dynasty, 25 – 220 CE
Stone
Xi’an Beilin Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Large stone beasts lined ‘spirit paths’ leading to the tombs of emperors, royals and aristocrats to protect them in the afterlife. These two magnificent Han dynasty examples stride forward with teeth displayed and powerful tails gracefully balanced behind. The female rests her front paw on a playful infant beast, representing natural harmony, and the male beast places his paw on a ball, representing his supremacy.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Female attendant 粉彩女俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Female attendant 粉彩女俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Female attendant
粉彩女俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

Excavated from the Yangling tomb of the fourth Han emperor, Jing, this female attendant displays the rounded shoulders typical of a Han dynasty beauty. She wears multi-layered robes with wide sleeves and the splayed lower section fashionable among women of the time. The position of her hands, concealed in her sleeves, elegant stance and gentle expression suggest that she is waiting to attend the imperial household members.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Standing soldiers 彩绘步兵俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Standing soldiers
彩绘步兵俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Xianyang Museum, Xianyang

 

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Large cavalrymen
彩绘骑马俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Xianyang Museum, Xianyang

 

 

A terracotta army of more than 2400 horses with riders and standing figures was discovered in 1965 by villagers levelling land at Yangjiawan, approximately twenty-two kilometres north-east of Xi’an. Due to the large number of military objects found, the site is believed to be a satellite tomb in the burial complex of the first Han emperor, Gaozu, associated with the military generals Zhou Bo and his son Zhou Yafu. Each standing warrior carries a shield and wears a loose rove, and one has painted armour. Colour remains visible on these figures and provides a good indication of their original appearance.

Label text from the exhibition

 

Goat 陶山羊 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Goat 陶山羊 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Goat
陶山羊
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Cow 陶牛 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Cow 陶牛 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Cow
陶牛
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Wild male dog 陶狼犬(公) Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE; Domestic female dog 陶家犬(母) Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Wild male dog
陶狼犬(公)
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

Domestic female dog
陶家犬(母)
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Sow 陶母猪 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Sow
陶母猪
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

Group of ten soldiers 男武士俑--十人组 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Group of ten soldiers 男武士俑--十人组 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Group of ten soldiers
男武士俑–十人组
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

 

More than 40,000 small-scale terracotta warriors were discovered and excavated during the 1990s from pits adjacent to the Han Yangling tomb of Emperor Jing. Created seventy years after Qin Shihuang’s life-sized terracotta warriors, they served the same purpose as tomb guardians but were of a scale that could be more practically produced. The torsos, legs and heads were moulded separately then joined with moist clay before firing. Arms, made from wood, clothing, made from cloth, and armour, made from leather, have all perished during their 2000 years underground. The variety of faces produced from different moulds suggest a multicultural nation and the many regions and ethnicities present in the Han dynasty army.

Label text from the exhibition

 

Wellhead 绿釉陶井 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Wellhead
绿釉陶井
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Glazed earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Opening hours:
Open daily, 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

10
Sep
19

Vale Robert Frank ‘The American’

September 2019

 

Robert Frank Americans 1 'Parade - Hoboken, New Jersey' 1955

 

Robert Frank (American-Swiss, 1924-2019)
Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey
1955

 

 

The flags will be all askew.
The jukeboxes will be playing.
And the light will never falter from his incandescent images.

Vale.

 

Robert Frank. 'Bar, New York City' 1955-56

 

Robert Frank (American-Swiss, 1924-2019)
Bar, New York City
1955-56

 

 

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

09
Sep
19

Exhibition: ‘Photo. Book. Art: Transition and Reorientation in Book Design. Austria 1840-1940’ at the Albertina, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 28th June – 22nd September 2019

 

Martin Gerlach. 'Mikroskopische Aufnahmen' 1902-1904

 

Martin Gerlach
Mikroskopische Aufnahmen, Aus: Formenwelt aus dem Naturreiche (Die Quelle, Bd. V)
Microscopic Images, From: Form world from the natural kingdom (Die Quelle, Vol. V)
1902-1904
Vienna: Gerlach u. Wiedling
Albertina Vienna, on permanent loan from the Federal Department of Education and Research
Fotografien von Hugo Hinterberger

 

 

A fascinating posting on early photo books, photographic book printing, luxury volumes and advertising brochures.

Many thankx to the Albertina for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Marcus

 

It is now such a given for photography to be the dominant medium of illustration in all types of publications that the beginnings of its involvement have faded into oblivion. But the process by which photography came to books was lengthy and accompanied by myriad technical difficulties. While impressive volumes with mounted originals featuring motifs such as butterfly wings magnified 1,000 times, Emperor Maximilian’s ceremonial armour, military exercises, and aristocratic theatrical performances reached enthusiastic audiences as early as 1860, few people could afford to purchase such publications.

Only when it became possible to reproduce photographs in print, which permitted book editions of practically unlimited copies, did photography grow into a mass medium that would go on to visually dominate the 20th century. But even so, the combination of convincing photography, refined book design, and artisanal perfectionism did produce a broad spectrum of those earliest photo volumes in Austria – of which this is the first-ever public exhibition.

Text from the Albertina website

 

Installation views of the exhibition 'Photo. Book. Art' at the Albertina, Vienna

Installation views of the exhibition 'Photo. Book. Art' at the Albertina, Vienna

Installation views of the exhibition 'Photo. Book. Art' at the Albertina, Vienna

Installation views of the exhibition 'Photo. Book. Art' at the Albertina, Vienna

Installation views of the exhibition 'Photo. Book. Art' at the Albertina, Vienna

Installation views of the exhibition 'Photo. Book. Art' at the Albertina, Vienna

 

Installation views of the exhibition Photo. Book. Art at the Albertina, Vienna
Fotos: © Georg Molterer

 

 

While photography now dominates nearly every type of publishing genre, the origins of its interplay with publishing have increasingly been forgotten – but the path by which photography entered books was long and littered with numerous technical hurdles, a fact that makes the various creative solutions fielded by pioneers in this area all the more intriguing. Original photographs, test prints, and book maquettes (original book designs) from the collections of the Albertina Museum open up a new perspective on a previously overlooked aspect of Austrian cultural history, which is characterised by diverse interrelationships between scientific curiosity, industrial interests, artistic experimentation, and an educational policy beholden to the Enlightenment.

This exhibition, which includes around 300 items from between 1840 and 1940, sheds light on an extraordinary panorama of innovative achievements manifested as luxury volumes and advertising brochures, travelogues and scientific atlases, artists’ designs and industrial documentation. And a broad spectrum of early photo books from Austria – of which this is the first-ever exhibition – presents fascinating combinations of convincing photography, refined book design, and artisanal perfection. The publication produced for this exhibition traces photography’s path to books in even more depth: on over 200 pages, comprehensive texts and full-scale facsimiles reveal fascinating historical relationships between text, image, and book object.

The advent of photography in 1839 inspired even its earliest commentators to express promising visions of the future, visions that associated this medium with that of books from the very beginning. They compared the innovation of photography with that of book printing long before it became possible to duplicate photographs in large numbers. Photography’s revolutionary potential was recognised not only in its ability to depict details authentically without human intervention but also in its mechanical reproducibility – the development of which, however, was still in its nascence.

Even so, photographic depiction’s aura of authenticity and infallibility was so strong that this new medium quickly came to be considered indispensable in printed books. So at first, publishers made do with illustrations after photographs – realised as lithographs or wood engravings. 1857 saw the appearance of books with photographs glued in to illustrate the text. The demand for such productions was to be found above all in innovative areas of scientific research and in that era’s expanding industry, but there were also volumes produced privately as luxurious mementos. The print runs involved here were to remain far smaller than those that had been made possible by the revolutionary invention of the printing press, which had first facilitated the widespread dissemination of written works.

There followed decades of institutionally led attempts to render photography printable, with such a technology being viewed as something of an “Egg of Columbus” (Ludwig Schrank, 1864). This phase witnessed the development of refined printing techniques that made possible high-quality image reproduction, thus satisfying a universal desire among scientists to publish comprehensive pictorial atlases with detailed photographic depictions that could serve as authentic comparative material suitable for use in research.

The definitive “professionalisation” of photographic printing in Austria occurred at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (photographic and graphic art school) under its director Josef Maria Eder, and the present exhibition’s main focus is devoted to this institution. Photographic images were then quick to find their way into the sophisticatedly designed books of the Viennese art nouveau.

1914 witnessed the International Exhibition of the Book Industry and Graphic Arts in Leipzig, an event for which Josef Hoffmann designed an Austrian pavilion as a contemporary setting in which to celebrate the significance of the Austrian Empire’s book industry. While the outbreak of World War I – which brought this event to a premature conclusion – did produce its own genre of illustrated volumes, it simultaneously marked the end of the era of luxury editions.

The interwar period brought with it further improvements in methods of printing photographs that finally allowed the production of inexpensive illustrated volumes. And for the first time, colourful book jackets were designed with photographic motifs – thus ringing in a whole new era on the book market. In the process, photography was liberated from its functions of illustrating text and storing “authentic” factual information. It indeed took on an entirely new character in avant-garde “photo books”: such books contained photographic images printed in deliberate sequences or juxtaposed, and it is as part of a clear interplay between images and text that the photos in books such as the the Wiener Werkstätte’s jubilee volume of 1929 or Stefan Kruckenhauser’s Snow Canvas (1937) appear in a quality that had never been seen before.

Press release from the Albertina website [Online] Cited 02/08/2019

 

Ernst Heeger. 'Album of microscopic-photographic representations from the field of zoology' 1860

 

Ernst Heeger
Album microscopisch-photographischer Darstellungen aus dem Gebiete der Zoologie
Album of microscopic-photographic representations from the field of zoology
1860
Wien: Carl Gerold’s Sohn, 4, 1860 Fotograf: k. k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei

 

Martin Gerlach. 'Mikroskopische Aufnahmen' 1902-1904

 

Martin Gerlach
Mikroskopische Aufnahmen, Aus: Formenwelt aus dem Naturreiche (Die Quelle, Bd. V)
Microscopic Images, From: Form world from the natural kingdom (Die Quelle, Vol. V)
1902-1904
Vienna: Gerlach u. Wiedling
Albertina Vienna, on permanent loan from the Federal Department of Education and Research
Fotografien von Hugo Hinterberger

 

Austrian State Printing House. "The Polar Bear" and "The Chimpanzee", From: 'The New Ark. Thirty animal pictures after photographs of nature' 1923

 

Österreichische Staatsdruckerei
“Der Eisbär” und “Der Schimpanse”, Aus: Die neue Arche. Dreißig Tierbilder nach photographischen Naturaufnahmen
Austrian State Printing House
“The Polar Bear” and “The Chimpanzee”, From: The New Ark. Thirty animal pictures after photographs of nature
1923
Vienna: Austrian State Printing House
Photoinstitut Bonartes

 

'Die Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1928: Modernes Kunstgewerbe und sein Weg. Festschrift zu 25jährigen Bestehen der Wiener Werkstätte' 1929

 

Die Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1928: Modernes Kunstgewerbe und sein Weg. Festschrift zu 25jährigen Bestehen der Wiener Werkstätte
The Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1928: Modern arts and crafts and its way. Commemoration on the 25th anniversary of the Wiener Werkstätte
1929
Vienna: Krystall-Verlag
Photoinstitut BONARTES

 

Bucheinband zu 'Roger Ginsburger: Frankreich. Die Entwicklung der neuen Ideen nach Konstruktion und Form' 1930

 

Bucheinband zu Roger Ginsburger: Frankreich. Die Entwicklung der neuen Ideen nach Konstruktion und Form
Book cover to Roger Ginsburger: France. The development of new ideas according to design and form
1930
Vienna: Anton Schroll & Co
Cover design el Lissitzky
Private collection

 

Umschlag von C. Angerer & Göschl Wien. 'Sechzig Jahre' 1932

 

Umschlag von C. Angerer & Göschl Wien
Sechzig Jahre
Cover by C. Angerer & Göschl Vienna
Sixty years
1932
Fotograf: Angerer & Göschl

 

 

Wall texts

Photo. Book. Art 1840-1940

The production of systematic knowledge and its dissemination were the key driving forces behind nineteenth-century enlightenment, with a flourishing book industry serving as mediator. From the moment it became known in 1839, photography, a guarantor of images true to detail made without human intervention, seemed to be cut out for not only supporting but speeding up this project.

The ambition to reproduce technically generated pictures unlimited in number like texts would only be fulfilled several decades later thanks to the invention of inexpensive printing techniques. This exhibition is dedicated to the period spanning from the first “vision” of such a feat with its aspiring scientific experiments to manually produced splendid volumes, to the high print-runs of popular illustrated books of the 1930s.

The definitive professionalisation of photo printing in Austria took place at Vienna’s Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, whose historical library, preserved as a permanent loan at the Albertina, has provided the starting point for this presentation thanks to its cataloguing supported by Photoinstitut Bonartes.

 

“A fortunate thought …”: Photo Publications 1850-1870

Almost twenty years after the invention of the new medium, a few enthusiasts began to illustrate mainly scientific works with original photographs, which were glued in. Although their publications were hailed by the critics, it soon became apparent that high costs and long production times curbed the number of printed copies. As documented by surviving subscriber lists, books illustrated with photographs were expensive prestige objects. Nonetheless, the suggestion of the photographic image as being authentic and infallible had such a strong impact that one did not want to completely do without the new medium: prints after photographs served as substitutes ensuring credibility. “

 

“Gradually delivering the whole world in pictures”: The Imperial and Royal Court and Government Printing Office

When Alois Auer was appointed director of the Imperial and Royal Court and Government Printing Office in 1841, he found himself faced with a run-down enterprise whose business consisted in printing legal texts and official forms. Being able to rely on almost unlimited funds from the responsible ministry, he succeeded in turning this printing office into a media company in the modern sense committed to a variety of fields. Auer was the first man in the history of (analog) media to regard writing and images of every kind as a potential unit for the reproduction and distribution of human knowledge.

Pursuing ideas that were far ahead of his time, Auer foundered on the huge scope of his plans: he intended to use photography and nature printing to compile material collections of encyclopaedic dimensions in laboratories or on expeditions that would not only provide reliable information but were also affordable.

 

A State-Run Educational Institution for Photography and Reproduction Techniques

The first pivotal invention on photography’s way into books was that of the collotype method in 1868 (a planographic printing process like lithography), which made the first printed photo books possible. Heliogravure (an elaborate intaglio technique in the manner of etching, which achieved particularly brilliant results) followed in 1878, the pioneering autotype method as a relief printing process (woodblock printing being a much simpler form) in 1883. It was no coincidence that these inventions were directly followed by the founding phase of the state-run “Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Photographie und Reproduktionsverfahren” (Educational and Experimental Institute for Photography and Reproduction Techniques) in Vienna, which from 1895 onward also included departments for book design and production. It was this institution that, under the direction of Josef Maria Eder, a photochemist, made all these new processes usable for the printing trade and industry: it not only trained the relevant specialists but also initiated or supported innovative photography and book projects.

 

From Luxury Volumes to Small-Format Books

World War I ushered in a radical transformation in book production. Whereas a few large volumes of plates adhering to the style of the prewar period were published, the now-common cheaper production of small-format books also brought about a change in the presentation of traditional themes. This shift manifested itself in illustrated books on foreign cultures, among others, which had already been popular in the nineteenth century. The result was a separation between scientific and popular books, of which, like in the case of Hugo Bernatzik, as many as 250,000 copies were printed.

 

Industry and Architecture

Since the sporadic pioneering feats of the 1860s, the brand management of big industrial companies in the form of photographic documentations and illustrated publications had increased considerably. Jubilee works and advertising brochures of all kinds offered a not to be underestimated new market for the professionalized and thus cheaper producing reproduction and printing industries. Among the most innovative users of photography were architects who – a rare case in Austria – were also open to new types of book design in the vein of the Bauhaus.

 

Specialised Publishers and Their Subjects

The improvement of printing techniques allowed some publishers to specialise in publications illustrated with photographs. Extensive compilations of pictures in a wide variety of fields, from ophthalmology to the holdings of museums and contemporary architecture, testify to the widespread desire to make visual information available in encyclopaedic form.

On the other hand, it was necessary to cater to new, only recently developed subject areas that emerged directly from the possibilities of technical image production. Elaborately designed and manufactured in small editions, these works ranged from volumes of wealthy amateur photographers flaunting their craftsmanship to promotionally effective illustrated books of the municipality of Vienna, which were intended to introduce the achievements of Mayor Karl Lueger to a broad public.

 

'Alexander Niklitschek: Advice for amateur photographers' 1934

 

Bucheinband zu Alexander Niklitschek: Ratschläge für Amateurphotographen
Book cover to Alexander Niklitschek: Advice for amateur photographers
1934
Leipzig, Vienna, Berlin: Steyrermühl
Albertina Wien, Dauerleihgabe der Höheren Graphischen Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt
Albertina Vienna, on permanent loan from the Federal Department of Education and Research

 

Harald Lechenper. 'Das Rätsel Indien' [The Indian Puzzle] 1935

 

Harald Lechenper
Das Rätsel Indien [The Indian Puzzle]
1935
Verlag Ullstein
Autotypie auf Karton nach Fotografie von Harald Lechenperg
Autotype on cardboard with photography by Harald Lechenperg

 

Stefan Kruckenhauser. 'In großen Linien zeichnet der Schnee, Aus: Du schöner Winter in Tirol. Ski- und Hochgebirgs-Erlebnisse mit der Leica' 1937

 

Stefan Kruckenhauser
In großen Linien zeichnet der Schnee, Aus: Du schöner Winter in Tirol. Ski- und Hochgebirgs-Erlebnisse mit der Leica
In big lines the snow draws, From: You beautiful winter in Tyrol. Ski and high mountain experiences with the Leica
1937
Berlin: Photokino-Verlag, Otto Elsner
The Albertina Museum, Vienna

 

'Otto Croy: Es liegt auf der Hand, Aus: Fotomontage. Der Weg zu den Grenzen der Fotografie' 1937

 

Otto Croy: Es liegt auf der Hand, Aus: Fotomontage. Der Weg zu den Grenzen der Fotografie
Otto Croy: It is obvious, From: photomontage. The Road to the Limits of Photography
1937
Halle (Saale): Wilhelm Knapp
The Albertina, Vienna

 

Stefan Kruckenhauser. 'Das Meisterwerk von Kefermarkt, Salzburg' 1941

 

Stefan Kruckenhauser
Das Meisterwerk von Kefermarkt, Salzburg
The masterpiece of Kefermarkt, Salzburg
1941
Leipzig: Otto Müller
Fotograf: Stefan Kruckenhauser

 

 

Albertina
Albertinaplatz 1
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 (0)1 534 83-0

Opening hours:
Daily 10 am – 6 pm
Wednesday and Fridays 10 am – 9 pm

Albertina website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top




Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

Join 2,543 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

September 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Archives

Categories