Catalogue


Austere luminosity of Chinese classical furniture /
Sarah Handler.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2001.
description
[xi], 417 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm.
ISBN
0520214846 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2001.
isbn
0520214846 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
4601243
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
A historian of Chinese art, Sarah Handler was curator of the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture and has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Illinois, and the University of Michigan. She has published widely in journals and collected volumes
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Sarah Handler has written a true cultural history of Chinese furniture. Her book is a highly erudite blend of art history and social history, yet with a structure as transparent and elegant as that of a fine piece of Ming-style furniture."--Klaas Ruitenbeek, Louise Hawley Stone Chair of Far Eastern Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and author of Carpentry and Building in Late Imperial China: A Study of the Fifteenth-Century Carpenter's Manual Lu Ban jing
Flap Copy
"Sarah Handler has written a true cultural history of Chinese furniture. Her book is a highly erudite blend of art history and social history, yet with a structure as transparent and elegant as that of a fine piece of Ming-style furniture."--Klaas Ruitenbeek, Louise Hawley Stone Chair of Far Eastern Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and author ofCarpentry and Building in Late Imperial China: A Study of the Fifteenth-Century Carpenter's ManualLu Ban jing
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-05-01:
Handler's sumptuous volume goes a long way toward placing classical Chinese furniture of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1912) solidly in the pantheon of important Chinese art, going even farther than the excellent Classic Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, by Wang Shixiang (1986). Art historian Handler is the North American expert on the subject, and it shows as she places the pieces (mostly in very good color) in many contexts. She does this by including other materials--paintings, prints, many different artifacts, etc.--so that the furniture comes alive rather than standing in isolation. At the same time she methodically devotes five chapters to different kinds of furniture of a classical kind (meaning polished hardwood, seemingly plain but rich and complex in design and manufacture). Just one remark reveals both her taste and knowledge: "the Bauhaus aesthetic has significantly altered our perception of [classical] Chinese furniture, causing us to admire especially the most geometric and minimal pieces." Abundant but useful endnotes and a large bibliography complete this thorough study, which, even if it were the sole volume on the subject in a library, is an essential acquisition. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. J. O. Caswell University of British Columbia
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-12-01:
Numerous books have illustrated Chinese furniture, but this is the first major work to reach beyond picturing collectors' trophies and place Chinese furniture in the context of the culture. The Chinese were the only civilization outside of Europe in premodern times to adopt a daily lifestyle based on chairs, tables, and other accessories rather than the mats, cushions, and trays prevalent in the rest of the world. What caused this movement up from floor level, and how was it reflected in the design and use of specific pieces of furniture? Further, how did it culminate in the creation of the magnificent rosewood furniture of the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties? A former curator of the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture who also taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, Handler discusses these topics and hosts of others in the clear, well-informed text. Approximately 118 color and 204 black-and-white images of single pieces of furniture and woodcuts from historic texts show comparable furniture in daily use. Handler has effectively woven the narrow subject of Chinese furniture design into the larger tapestry of Chinese life. Recommended. David McClelland, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, December 2001
Choice, May 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Chinese classical furniture is esteemed throughout the world for its beauty, functionalism, and influence on contemporary design aesthetics. Sarah Handlers stunningly illustrated volume traces Chinese hardwood furniture from its earliest origins in the Shang dynasty (c. 1500 to c. 1050 B.C.) to the present. She offers a fascinating and poetic view of Chinese furniture as functional sculpture, a fine art alongside the other Chinese arts of calligraphy, architecture, painting, and literature. Handler, a widely respected scholar of Chinese furniture, uses her knowledge of Chinese social, political, and economic history to provide a backdrop for understanding the many nuances of this art form. Drawing on literary and visual evidence from excavated materials, written texts, paintings, prints, and engravings, she discusses how people lived, their notions of hierarchy, and their perceptions of space. Her descriptions of historical developments, such as the shift from mats to chairs, evoke the psychological and sociological ramifications. The invention of a distinctive way to support and contain people and things within the household is one of Chinas singular contributions, says Handler. With more than three hundred exquisite illustrations, many in color, Handlers comprehensive study reveals "the magical totality of Chinese classical furniture, from its rich surfaces and shrewd proportions down to the austere soul of art that resides in the hardwood interiors." "Austere Luminosity "recognizes Chinese classical furniture as one of Chinas premier arts, unique in the furniture traditions of the world.
Main Description
Chinese classical furniture is esteemed throughout the world for its beauty, functionalism, and influence on contemporary design aesthetics. Sarah Handler's stunningly illustrated volume traces Chinese hardwood furniture from its earliest origins in the Shang dynasty (c. 1500 to c. 1050 B.C.) to the present. She offers a fascinating and poetic view of Chinese furniture as functional sculpture, a fine art alongside the other Chinese arts of calligraphy, architecture, painting, and literature. Handler, a widely respected scholar of Chinese furniture, uses her knowledge of Chinese social, political, and economic history to provide a backdrop for understanding the many nuances of this art form. Drawing on literary and visual evidence from excavated materials, written texts, paintings, prints, and engravings, she discusses how people lived, their notions of hierarchy, and their perceptions of space. Her descriptions of historical developments, such as the shift from mats to chairs, evoke the psychological and sociological ramifications. The invention of a distinctive way to support and contain people and things within the household is one of China's singular contributions, says Handler. With more than three hundred exquisite illustrations, many in color, Handler's comprehensive study reveals "the magical totality of Chinese classical furniture, from its rich surfaces and shrewd proportions down to the austere soul of art that resides in the hardwood interiors." Austere Luminosity recognizes Chinese classical furniture as one of China's premier arts, unique in the furniture traditions of the world.
Main Description
Austere Luminosity will be the book on Chinese classical furniture. A sumptuous coffee table book with impeccable scholarship, Sarah Handler's expertise will serve as the primary resource for scholars and collectors of Chinese classical furniture for years.
Long Description
Chinese classical furniture is esteemed throughout the world for its beauty, functionalism, and influence on contemporary design aesthetics. Sarah Handler's stunningly illustrated volume traces Chinese hardwood furniture from its earliest origins in the Shang dynasty (c. 1500 to c. 1050 B.C.) to the present. She offers a fascinating and poetic view of Chinese furniture as functional sculpture, a fine art alongside the other Chinese arts of calligraphy, architecture, painting, and literature. Handler, a widely respected scholar of Chinese furniture, uses her knowledge of Chinese social, political, and economic history to provide a backdrop for understanding the many nuances of this art form. Drawing on literary and visual evidence from excavated materials, written texts, paintings, prints, and engravings, she discusses how people lived, their notions of hierarchy, and their perceptions of space. Her descriptions of historical developments, such as the shift from mats to chairs, evoke the psychological and sociological ramifications. The invention of a distinctive way to support and contain people and things within the household is one of China's singular contributions, says Handler. With more than three hundred exquisite illustrations, many in color, Handler's comprehensive study reveals "the magical totality of Chinese classical furniture, from its rich surfaces and shrewd proportions down to the austere soul of art that resides in the hardwood interiors."Austere Luminosityrecognizes Chinese classical furniture as one of China's premier arts, unique in the furniture traditions of the world.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Chronology of Dynastiesp. xi
Introduction: A Taste for Austere Luminosityp. 1
Revolution and Discovery
Rising from Mat to Chair: A Revolution in Chinese Furniturep. 9
A Ming Meditation Chair in Bauhaus Lightp. 25
George Kates Discovering Chinese Furniture during the Years That Were Fatp. 36
Chairs
A Yokeback Chair for Sitting Tallp. 43
The Folding Armchair: An Elegant Vagabondp. 60
The Lowback Armchair with Carvings of Bamboo, Magic Fungi, or the Three Friends of Winterp. 72
A Ubiquitous Stoolp. 82
Beds
Life on a Platformp. 105
A Couchbed Day and Night for Comfort and Joyp. 122
The Canopy Bed: A Little World Made Cunninglyp. 139
Tables
On a New World Arose a Kang Tablep. 161
A Square Table Where the Immortals Dinep. 180
A Clean Table by a Bright Windowp. 203
The Side Table: A Surface for Treasures and Godsp. 224
Cabinets and Screens
Cabinets and Shelves Containing All Things in Chinap. 241
The Screen: A Movable Wall to Divide, Enhance, and Beautifyp. 268
Stands
The Incense Stand and a Scholar's Mystical Statep. 295
Lamp Stands and Lanterns: Carriers of Lightp. 303
Perfumed Coals in Precious Braziers Burnp. 319
Washbasin Stands for Ablutions and Washing Cleanp. 332
Notesp. 345
Works Citedp. 373
Glossary-Indexp. 395
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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