Summer Special: Literati Painting & Pu Ru (溥儒)

<em>Summer Special</em>: Literati Painting & Pu Ru (溥儒)

– Taught by Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer

Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30pm
5 sessions (10 hours)
July 10-August 7
Tuition: $250 members / $290 non-members, plus a $30 non-refundable registration fee

Emerging in the twilight years of Tang (618-907), the Literati Painting exemplifies as a genre uniquely specific to the Chinese culture, which blended the following aspects: poetry, music, calligraphy and painting, as all of these art forms had reached maturity in their respective merits by the Tang. The genre of Literati Painting had its golden, halcyon days from the 11th century through the dawning years of the Manchu dynasty in the 17th century and lasted well until Mid-20th century.

An artist of Literati Painting paints mostly natural elements. A fine Literati Painting work shows the artist’s eyes, heart and his flowing brush on clouds, petals, mountains, river, rain drops, breezes, seasons, among other natural elements, all to express the artist’s life experience and inner emotions: laughter or tears. On a fine literati painting, a poem must be composed of characters painstakingly selected for their high poetics and visual beauty and written out in a properly chosen calligraphic style, according to the artist’s mood, to provide the viewer with a joy at once visceral and cerebral. And when the poem is being recited, the relevant and resonant sounds set in appropriate tones further heighten the pleasure.

While the poetry and calligraphy provide visualized thoughts and beauty, the tonal sounds offer music and rhythm, and the picture itself shows what eyes can see – and thereby the acquisition of a total and rounded enjoyment on the part of an aficionado of art and culture.

Ben Wang, Senior lecturer of Language and Humanities and an award-winning translator at China Institute, is offering a special 5-week course on Literati Painting, as how it is gloriously represented in the works of the last towering master of the genre, Pu Ru (溥儒). The timeless and profound artistry of Pu Ru as a poet, calligrapher and painter will be discussed in detail through the studies of selected poems, calligraphic styles and paintings of the inimitable master. The extraordinary life and personality of the master will also be discussed. This rare course will begin in July, 2018. For further information, please contact China Institute.

About Pu Ru (溥儒): “Last Emperor” of Literati Painting
Fully cognizant of the inevitability of heartbreaks in life, leading to resignation to the all-too-quick passing of life’s golden, halcyon days, Pu Ru (1896-1963), whose great-grandfather was Emperor Daoguang, the 6th emperor of the Manchu dynasty, lived through the twilight years of the Qing. This last giant in poetry, calligraphy and painting, a bon-vivant who luxuriated in a privileged early life, eventually settled quietly down to a threadbare existence on the island of Taiwan after 1949.

Throughout the tumultuous changes, Pu Ru persisted indefatigably in his literary and artistic creations and transformed what to others would be unendurable despair into works of lasting beauty.

If you have any questions, please contact Tina Fang at [email protected], call 212-744-8181, ext. 150, or submit your information through our contact form online.


Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer in Language and Humanities at China Institute, Co-Chair of the Renwen Society of China Institute, and Instructor of Chinese at the United Nations Language Program. An award-winning published translator, Ben Wang has taught and lectured on the Chinese language, calligraphy, and classical Chinese literature at Yale, Columbia, Barnard, Williams, U.C. Berkeley, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, ABC Nightline, the BBC, among other academic and cultural institutions. Ben Wang taught Chinese and translation at Columbia University and New York University between 1969 and 1991.

Instructor: Ben Wang