Gallery Views of the Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art

March 27-August 28, 2011
The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall

Painted poetry in Korea and Japan embraced Chinese classical poems, called hansi in Korean or kanshi in Japanese, as an international cultural code in East Asia-much like English functions as a way of communicating verbally throughout the world today.

Elites in East Asia have communicated spiritual freedom through the "armchair reclusion" expressed in poetry and painting. Korean and Japanese artists were inspired by the international iconography in Chinese poems to represent their inner utopia and liberation from mundane life. They interpreted-rather than copied-the Chinese prototype, using their own sophisticated tastes. As a result, Korean and Japanese art sometimes appears fresher and offers a greater emotional appeal than the original Chinese painting of the same period.

This exhibition, the first in-depth comparison of the achievements of Korea and Japan from the late 12th century, consists of some 80 masterpieces from the museum's permanent collection-many that have not been shown since the 1990s. The show features every art form, including painting, calligraphy, and craft, that transformed Chinese lyrical aesthetics in the Korean Joseon period and in the Japanese Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo periods.


The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.