Wu Bin: Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone

Resnick Pavilion
December 10, 2017–June 24, 2018

In ancient China strange and marvelous stones were valued for their beauty and as reflections of the hidden structures underlying the universe. Stones were seen as fluid and dynamic, constantly changing, and capable of magical transformations. Certain stones were believed to be able to speak, to emit clouds and rain, to predict the weather, to move about of their own accord, and to heal. Fantastic stones were perceived as mountains in miniature, imbued with the same primordial energies that made up peaks sacred to both Daoist and Buddhist traditions. Like the human body, stones were believed to be born, to live, and to die, just as were mountains themselves.

The exhibition focuses on the most extraordinary painting of a stone ever created in China: Wu Bin’s Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone (1610), a Ming dynasty handscroll comprising 10 separate views of a single stone from the famous site of Lingbi, Anhui Province. Also including superb examples of Lingbi and Taihu stones and contemporary Chinese ink paintings depicting stones, this exhibition explores the history of collecting strange stones in China and the relationship between stones, Daoist cosmology, and classical Chinese poetry.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

All exhibitions at LACMA are underwritten by the LACMA Exhibition Fund. Major annual support is provided by Kitzia and Richard Goodman, with generous annual funding from Jerry and Kathleen Grundhofer, Lauren Beck and Kimberly Steward, the Judy and Bernard Briskin Family Foundation, Louise and Brad Edgerton, Edgerton Foundation, Emily and Teddy Greenspan, Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross, David Schwartz Foundation, Inc., and Lenore and Richard Wayne. 

Image: Wu Bin, Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone, China, Ming dynasty, Wanli reign, 1610, © Ornan Rotam, courtesy Sylph Editions






Wu Bin: Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone

In China strange stones (guai shi) were valued on several levels. While they could convey considerable social status merely through their strange beauty, stones were also seen as reflections of the basic structures underlying reality as understood by ancient Chinese philosophers and cosmologists. Many stones were perceived to be made of the purest energies left over from the creation of the world. As the Song dynasty (12th century) writer Kong Chuan wrote in his preface to Du Wan’s Stone Catalogue of Cloudy Forest, “The purest essence of the energy of the heaven-earth world coalesces into rock.”...