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Jerome Silbergeld

At certain times in Western art movements, as, for instance, with Art Nouveau, line has been accorded particular importance. It is also a valued element in Islamic art. However, it is in East Asian art that brushline assumed its most distinctive and universally admired aspect, seen prominently in the brushwork of calligraphy and painting and imitated in woodblock-printing, but also evident in decorated ceramics, lacquerware, architectural tiles and reliefs, and sculpture. Particularly in China, but also in Korea and Japan, viewers of painting traditionally concentrated their appreciation on brushwork, seen in terms of execution or performance and regarded as the most fundamental expression of artistic personality and creative talent, while other elements such as colour and compositional invention were accorded considerably less attention.

From early times, East Asian writers on art have paid great critical and theoretical attention to brushline. The six criteria for the assessment of painting, proposed by the Chinese critic ...