It’s that time again. The open tabs have piled up, and it’s time to share some links while trying to not go overboard with lengthy comments.
*First today is Chinese Vernacular Architecture, a blog by UCSB Art History PhD student Wencheng Yan. He hasn’t updated in quite some time, but among his posts from a few years ago are some excellent ones about the Yuan Palace and efforts to save Suzhou’s vernacular architecture, among other topics.
*Meanwhile, in a piece cleverly titled “>Curator, Tear Down These Walls,” the New York Times’ Roberta Smith has presented an argument for American folk art to be considered right up there with academic art. The power of the canon can be very strong, and even today, even as we question ‘what is art?’ in our classrooms and galleries, even as we work to challenge the canon, we are still somewhat arbitrarily implicitly, or explicitly, elevating some types of art above others. I don’t know much about the intricacies of the politics of American art appreciation, but it reminds me of the way that late Ming Dynasty painter & art critic Dong Qichang, through his incredible influence, was able to shape Chinese tastes all the way down to the present, to appreciate literati art the most, and to disparage academic art. Only very recently have art historians and curators come back around to begin to examine Chinese academic art, and to regard it highly, once again.
*Archaeologists in Tokyo have reported the first-ever discovery of Jômon period human remains in the Kantô plain, outside of shell-mounds. I recently learned that the soil in most parts of Japan is rather acidic, and breaks down human remains – even bones – within just a few hundred years, making it especially rare to find remains outside of what are called “pot burials”, where the bones are placed within ceramic vessels. Actually, now that I think about it, if the soil is acidic enough to break down bones, why doesn’t it break down shell mounds?
And.. that’s all for now. More stuff to come.