Week 2: Art from West Africa – the Benin Bronzes

This video is powerful in its message about how colonialism has stolen, attacked and plundered West Africa’s rich cultural heritage and history. Standing in the museum of the descendants of the colonizers, in front of the plundered works, the descendant of the affected himself tells of the consequences of the attackers. Events that have been done in the past will be reflected in the future, and their traces will never be erased nor forgotten.

Week 1: “Why you don’t like Art History!”

As mentioned in the video, there are many ways of looking at art history, according to John Berger. Art history becomes enjoyable, in my opinion, when you are able to see the bigger picture of a work of art — the time period, cultural influences and the factors involved at the time, etc. Studying art history is another way to see how mankind has evolved, and the many narratives merged within the art works over the course of the centuries inspire people of the present day.

Introduction to the Histories of Art II Research Paper Proposal


  1. Compare landscape painting by Guo Xi’s with woodblock print of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai. Consider the following in your discussion: patrons, producers, materials, production, function and meanings.


Two objects:

– Early Spring, Old Trees, Level Distance (hand scrolls)

– Fugaku Sanju-Rokkei (Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji)
e.g. The Great Wave off Kanagawa



General Claim:
Both Hokusai and Guo Xi captured the essence of the landscapes they saw (? Not sure yet)

Clear differences in influences, mediums, style/technique and context of landscape painting


Edo Period Artist
Background: Katsukawa school, cutter of woodblocks, Tawaraya Sori School, Kano and Tosa Schools (Chinese-style painting + native Japanese yamato-e)
Influenced by Chinese, Western and Dutch styles of art

Guo Xi:

Chinese landscape painter from Henan Province
Northern Song Dynasty
Court Professional, a literatus, well-educated painter


Tentative claim:

-There are more differences between the landscape paintings by Guo Xi and Mt. Fuji by Hokusai (?)


Essay Plan:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Differences between Guo Xi and Hokusai’s use of techniques and approach to landscape painting

Kumogata Clouds,
foreign influences,
use of color and pigment,
interpretation of a picture (context),
deep pictorial space, removed and high viewpoint (yamato-e)
enhance 3D via placing one foot in front of the other.

Guo Xi:
rooted in tradition (academic scholar) – studies the trees, nature etc.,
use of tonal varieties of ink,
brush strokes: thin beginning and end, broad centers,
landscape art not bound by nameable place,
approach towards space and spatial recession- through motifs

  1. Similarities between Guo Xi and Hokusai’s approach to landscape painting– yamato-e’s Chinese characteristics (rhythmic repetition)
    – deep pictorial space
    – execution based on fundamental knowledge of perception of space and depth
    (academic backgrounds, studies from schools (Hokusai)
  1. There is a distinction between Hokusai’s woodblock prints and Guo Xi’s handscroll landscape art
  1. Conclusion


Tentative Bibliography:


Bouquillard, Jocelyn. Hokusai’s Mount Fuji. New York: Abrams, 2007.

Bell, David. Hokusai’s Project: The Articulation of Pictorial Space. England: Global Oriental, 2007.

White, Julia, Mochinaga Brandon, Reiko and Woodson, Yoko. Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James a Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1999.

Mayor, A. Hyatt and Betchaku, Yasuko. “Hokusai.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin New Series Vol. 43, No. 1 (1985): 1-2+4-48. Accessed March 3, 2016. http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/stable/pdf/3263896.pdf

E. Guth, Christine. Hokusai’s Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 2015. http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/tc/verify?origin=%2Fstable%2Fpdf%2Fj.ctt13x1kh0.6.pdf

E. Guth, Christine. “Hokusai’s Great Waves in Nineteeth-Century Japanese Visual Culture.” The Art Bulletin Vol. 93, No. 4 (2011): 468-485. Accessed 3 March 2016. http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/tc/verify?origin=%2Fstable%2Fpdf%2F23208270.pdf


Guo Xi

Vanderstappen, Harrie. The Landscape Painting of China: Musings of a Journeyman. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014.

Foong, Ping. “Guo Xi’s Intimate Landscapes and the Case of “Old Trees, Level Distance” Metropolitan Museum Journal Vol. 35 (2000):            87-115. Accessed March 3, 2016. http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/stable/pdf/1513027.pdf

Jang, Scarlett. “Realm of the Immortals: Paintings Decorating the Jade Hall of the Northern Song.” Ars Orientalis Vol. 22 (1992): 81-96. Accessed March 3, 2016. http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/stable/pdf/4629426.pdf

Lawton, Mary. “Guo Xi [Kuo His; zi Shunfu]” Oxford Art Online. January 30, 2002. http://www.oxfordartonline.com.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/subscriber/article/grove/art/T035701?type=biography&type=article&search=quick&q=Guo+Xi&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit