For more than a millennium, the integral relationship between nature and art has been a highly revered belief in Chinese culture, particularly among the literati (scholar-gentlemen). These men had great respect for nature’s ability to create its own “works of art.” They avidly collected intriguing specimens, ranging from large eroded and calcified rocks that they positioned in their urban gardens to smaller “scholar objects” of wood or stone that they placed in their studios for aesthetic enjoyment.
Boston sculptor Richard Rosenblum (1940-2000) amassed a collection of this material that is one of the largest of its kind. Because of his extraordinary vision, scholar objects have gained much recognition in the West. In contrast to the intellectual or mystical appreciation of the material that drove literati scholars of China to become “petromaniacs,” Rosenblum’s attraction to these objects was intuitive. The cragged shapes of gnarled tree branches and the baroque formations of weathered rocks drew him as emblems of the power of transformation.
This installation, “Art of the Natural World,” honors the creative life of Richard Rosenblum and celebrates a recent gift of twenty-five Chinese and five Japanese scholar objects from the Rosenblum Family Collection to the Museum as well as a related publication.