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Art Exhibitions

“Summer of CHINA” Primer–Scholar’s Rocks

Zhan Wang, Artificial Rock No. 43 (detail), 2008. Stainless steel. Private collection. Photo by the author.
Zhan Wang (Chinese, b. 1962), Artificial Rock No. 43 (detail), 2008. Stainless steel. Private collection. Photo by the author.

What do you think of when I say rocks?

Probably not much of consequence. Rocks scattered on the ground, surrounded by grass and dirt. Perhaps lining a path somewhere. Maybe caught in your shoe. Rocks are not a huge part of daily American culture (unless, perhaps, you are a gardener).

But in China (you knew that was coming, right?), rocks played an important cultural role in the life of an intellectual. For that reason, rockeries (or, rock gardens) are a theme threading through many of the Summer of CHINA exhibitions here at the Museum. Let’s bring those threads together in this primer on an essential component of Chinese art and culture: scholar’s rocks!