What We Are Reading Today: Art as History Calligraphy and Painting as One

Updated 21 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Art as History Calligraphy and Painting as One

This richly illustrated book provides an anthology and summation of the work of one of the world’s leading historians of Chinese painting and calligraphy. Wen C. Fong helped create the field of East Asian art history during a distinguished five-decade career at Princeton University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Few if any writers in English have such a broad knowledge of the history and practice of Chinese painting and calligraphy. In this collection of some of his most recent essays, Fong gives a sweeping tour through the history of Chinese painting and calligraphy as he offers new and revised views on a broad range of important subjects.
The topics addressed include “art as history,” in which each art object preserves a moment in art’s own significant history; the museum as a place of serious study and education; the close historical relationship between calligraphy and painting and their primacy among Chinese fine arts; the parallel development of representational painting and sculpture in early painting history; the greater significance of brushwork, seen abstractly as a means of personal expression by the artist, in later painting history; the paradigmatic importance of the master-to-follower lineage as a social force in shaping the continuity and directing the subtle changes in Chinese painting history.


What We Are Reading Today: All the Lives We Ever Lived by Katharine Smyth

Updated 14 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: All the Lives We Ever Lived by Katharine Smyth

All the Lives We Ever Lived is an evocative portrait of the deep bond between the author and her dynamic, difficult father. 

Katharine Smyth’s “exploration of grown-up love, the kind that accounts for who the loved one actually is, not who you want him or her to be, gains power and grace as her story unfolds,” said Radhika Jones in a review published in the The New York Times.

“I suspect her book could itself become solace for people navigating their way through the complexities of grief for their fallen idols. And they will be lucky to have it,” the review added.

Smyth is a graduate of Brown University. She has worked for The Paris Review and taught at Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

A commentary in goodreads.com said the book is “a wise, lyrical memoir about the power of literature to help us read our own lives — and see clearly the people we love most.”