The Six Principles have been described as the most influential paragraph ever written on the art of Chinese painting. Xie He, active ca. 500 C.E., was a painter and art critic who methodically outlined these six principles, sometimes translated as "techniques" or "elements" of painting. They have persisted over 1500 years as criteria for creating, examining, and evaluating art in China. The spare language, utilizing just four characters to express each of Xie He's points, has allowed for broad interpretations and sparked debates over translation even well into the 20th century. The first and most important principle has sometimes been poetically translated as "Rhythmic Vitality" or "Spirit Harmony." Without this, the painter said, one need look no further. This exhibition will equip visitors to look further and with greater appreciation using concepts established by one of China's early art critics.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.