Nearly a thousand years of the history of calligraphy—from the 11th century to the present day—can be experienced in this exhibition. In East Asia, calligraphy has long been treasured as a form of art. Even without knowing the meaning of the words, calligraphy continues to be admired for its beauty—the compositional structure and flow of lines.
With representative works ranging from Islamic to archaic Chinese style, to contemporary artist Xu Bing’s invented writing system, and the Pacific Northwest artist Mark Tobey’s calligraphy-inspired work, the first group introduces an overview, conveying that calligraphy can be appreciated as abstract art across cultures.
The striking juxtaposition of two primary categories of Japanese calligraphy—kana and kanji—is featured in the second and third groups. The elegance of kana calligraphy often lies in its line, flow, and rhythm; whereas kanji calligraphy, akin to its Chinese counterpart, emphasizes the overall composition in addition to each individual line.
Explore related works in SAM's collection through the Catalogue of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy.