We went to Princeton a few weeks ago to visit my Tsinghua classmate and two ex-colleagues. After lunch my classmate took us to Princeton University Art Museum. It’s free and small, but has a surprisingly comprehensive collection spanning almost all chronological periods and geological areas, very good for a brief art history tour. There’s no well known masterpiece, though.

Its Chinese collection takes up almost half of the lower level for antiques with lots of good stuff across the ages. Two contemporary pieces are most memorable, one is an imitation on Shi Tao’s painting in Van Gogh style by 张宏图. I found his homepage online, and there’re a few more paintings like that. The other is a classical water-ink painting using slightly deformed Chinese characters to “paint” their corresponding objects, such as using many 枝 to compose branches, 石 as stones by the road, etc. It’s really a nice way to use the inherent artistic shape and flow of Chinese characters.

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