Art: Elusive Cloudland

The Chinese say that their painting is "like vapors and clouds which rise into space, gather around cliffs and drift over wide expanses. ..."

Westerners often have trouble catching the drift of these painted vapors. One who has no trouble is Princeton's George Rowley. His Principles of Chinese Painting (Princeton University Press; $15), on sale last week, is a well-illustrated and well-reasoned study of this elusive cloudland. Summarizing the Chinese approach to painting, Author Rowley lists four "categories of greatness":

Chiao (clever). "Clever" Chinese are slick at rendering the "outward formal likeness"; they know the "rules." As Old Master Ching Hao put it:...

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