A New Middle Kingdom
Painting and Cultural Politics in Late Chosŏn Korea (1700–1850)
- PUBLISHED: October 2018
- SUBJECT LISTING: Art History / Asian Art, Asian Studies / Korea
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 296 Pages, 7 x 10 in, 93 color illus.
- ISBN: 9780295743257
Historians have claimed that when social stability returned to Korea after devastating invasions by the Japanese and Manchus around the turn of the seventeenth century, the late Chosŏn dynasty was a period of unprecedented economic and cultural renaissance, in which prosperity manifested itself in new programs and styles of visual art. A New Middle Kingdom questions this belief, claiming instead that true-view landscape and genre paintings were likely adopted to propagandize social harmony under Chosŏn rule and to justify the status, wealth, and land grabs of the ruling class. This book also documents the popularity of art books from China and their misunderstanding by Koreans and, most controversially, Korean enthusiasm for artistic programs from Edo Japan, thus challenging academic stereotypes and nationalistic tendencies in the scholarship about the Chosŏn period. As the first truly interdisciplinary study of Korean art, A New Middle Kingdom points to realities of late Chosŏn society that its visual art seemed to hide and deny.
A William Sangki and Nanhee Min Hahn Book
Authors & Contributors
J. P. Park is associate professor in the history of art at the University of Oxford, UK. He is the author of Art by the Book: Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late Ming China and Keeping It Real: Korean Artists in the Age of Multi-Media Representation.
Offers penetrating analyses of the paintings of the period by foregrounding sociological and cultural aspects of the time. . . . Including appropriate illustrations, notes, and a glossary, this is a good source for specialists interested in this relatively brief historical era.- Choice
Richly detailed, comprehensively resourced, and meticulously researched . . . call[s] into question existing narratives on Chosŏn painting by reading artworks in consideration of their collective agency and their roles in negotiating values, taste, and status at a critical historical juncture. [A New Middle Kingdom] will hence contribute significantly to the literature and ultimately enrich scholarly discussion of early modernity in East Asia.- Journal of Asian Studies
Questioning standard paradigms in the field and investigating unexplored issues, Park discusses in detail the roles of societal transformation, political ideology, and historical conflict in the making of paintings and the formation of visual culture...The wealth of material and the comprehensive coverage make this an absorbing book...a highly articulate, impressive study.- The Art Bulletin
Brings important new insights to the understanding of Korean painting. Careful research such as Park’s—incorporating history, literature, trade, cultural values, and painting—is long overdue in Korean art history.- Alfreda Murck, author of Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent
Extremely thought provoking. Offers a wealth of new information to the Western reader and is a most valuable contribution to Korean art and Korean cultural and social history.- Burglind Jungmann, author of Pathways to Korean Culture: Paintings of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910
J. P. Park’s remarkable erudition permits him to question a host of hasty generalizations that continue to haunt the historiography of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese art. Densely documented yet easy to read, this book may set a new standard for regional studies of East Asian art, an exemplary instance of transcultural scholarship.- Martin Powers, Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese Arts and Cultures, University of Michigan