Japanese Zen Buddhism and the Impossible Painting
September 23, 2014
Museum Lecture Hall, The Getty Center
Created by the Zen monk-painter Josetsu for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi, The Gourd and the Catfish (ca. 1413)—which involved the participation of some 32 Zen monks—has been designated a Japanese national treasure and is celebrated as a Zen masterpiece.
In this lecture, Professor Yukio Lippit considers the ways in which the work mobilizes new modes of artistic representation to pictorialize the nonsensical nature of Zen koans (riddles or paradoxical statements that demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning). Lippit also explores the connections between ink paintings, medieval shogunal culture, and Zen Buddhism's doctrinal emphasis on the concept of emptiness.
Yukio Lippit is Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University.
This lecture and the accompanying publication (due out in fall 2015) are sponsored by the Getty Research Institute Council.