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A distant dream: Balthus, Henri Michaux, and the Chinese aesthetic tradition

Li, XA; (2018) A distant dream: Balthus, Henri Michaux, and the Chinese aesthetic tradition. Word & Image , 34 (3) pp. 281-296. 10.1080/02666286.2018.1460566. Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines the relation between twentieth-century artists Balthus, Henri Michaux, and Chinese painting and poetic imagery. The constant echo of a seemingly “Chinese aesthetics” in Balthus’s and Michaux’s works gives rise to a few important questions. How do Balthus’s and Michaux’s creative practices and works engage with and re-invent the Chinese aesthetic tradition? What new understandings of Balthus and Michaux will be revealed if they are seen in the light of Chinese notions about painting, calligraphy, and poetic imagery? What would this say about the relation between artistic influence and creativity, especially in the case of the transformation of aesthetic forms and ideas across cultures and time? By discussing how Balthus’s figurative and landscape paintings relate to the Zhuangzi’s dream imagery and Song dynasty shanshui (mountain–water) paintings, and how Michaux’s ink paintings are integrated into his critical endeavor to break away from Orientalist stereotypes, it is argued that both artists are transformed by the Chinese aesthetic tradition, as well as actively transform how it is understood.

Type: Article
Title: A distant dream: Balthus, Henri Michaux, and the Chinese aesthetic tradition
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/02666286.2018.1460566
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/02666286.2018.1460566
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Balthus, Henri Michaux, Chinese aesthetic tradition, artistic influence, painting and poetics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082495
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