THE CULT OF HAPPINESS
An exhibition of more than thirty Nianhua, Chinese New Year prints from 19th and early 20th centuries, selected from the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art's permanent collection, will be on view at the museum September 17 through November 6, 2005. "The Cult of Happiness: Chinese Woodblock Prints" is curated by associate professor of Art History, Dr. Elizabeth Brotherton, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the New York Conference of Asian Studies (NYCAS) to be held on the SUNY New Paltz campus September 30 and October 1, 2005.
Nianhua prints are commonly known in the Western Hemisphere as Chinese New Year prints; however, they cannot be restricted to the celebration of the New Year. Many of these prints were attached outside of doors and were renewed for the New Year while others were burned in New Year rituals.
Until the mid-20th century, Nianhua were used almost universally in Chinese households. After buying the prints, people would paste them up on the doors and walls of their homes, replacing what pictures still remained from the former year. The bold designs and bright colors of protective door gods and gods of good fortune, prosperity, and longevity would have been especially striking when seen within the often drab architectural contexts in which they were used. Produced by workshops of anonymous craftsmen or peasants during the agricultural off-season, they display great decorative sophistication while at the same time managing to retain a direct simplicity in their style.
"The Cult of Happiness: Chinese Woodblock Prints" will open with a reception on September 17 from 2-4 pm. at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
About the Curator
Professor Elizabeth Brotherton is a specialist in the arts of China. Research projects include Northern Song literati painting, archaism, the relationship of painting and poetry, farewell paintings, New Year's prints, and the rhetorical uses of art.
The griffon bestowing sons (Qilin songer), ca. 1850-1900 Color woodblock print, 16 5/8 in. x 10 1/4 in.
About the Museum
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures. The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 20th century paintings and works on paper, Asian and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, metals and photographs. SDMA has a special commitment to collecting and exhibiting important works of art created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions. The Museum is a major cultural resource in the Hudson Valley serving a broad-based constituency from both on and beyond the New Paltz campus.
Hours and other information
Hours: Wednesday - Saturday, 11 am - 5 pm, Sunday 1-5 pm Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, university intersession, and national holidays. SDMA accommodates the disabled. Admission is free.
For further museum information call 845-257-3844 or visit their Web site at www.newpaltz.edu/museum
For information about NYCAS, visit the web at www.newpaltz.edu/asianstudies/nycas.html