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Brush and Shutter: Early Photography in China

  • Edited by Jeffrey W. Cody and Frances Terpak

    Photography was introduced to China in the 1840s through the West's engagement in the Opium Wars and the subsequent reforms of Chinese statesmen. As a result, traditional modes of expression were dramatically transformed. Uncovered here is a captivating visual history of China during photography's first century, from the late Qing period to Republican Shanghai and wartime Chongqing. Chinese export painters learned and adapted the medium of photography by grafting the new technology onto traditional artistic conventions—employing both brush and shutter. Ultimately, both Chinese and Western photographers were witnesses to and agents of dynamic cultural change.

    The essays in this volume shed new light on the birth of a medium. Jeffrey Cody and Frances Terpak, together with Edwin Lai, discuss the medium's evolution, commercialization, and dissemination; Wu Hung examines the invention of a portrait style through the lens of Milton Miller; Sarah Fraser investigates how this style shaped China's national image; and Wen-hsin Yeh addresses the camera's role in Republican Shanghai and wartime Chongqing. The catalogue accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the J. Paul Getty Museum from February 8 to May 1, 2011.

    Jeffrey W. Cody is a senior project specialist in the Education Department at the Getty Conservation Institute. He is the author of Building in China (The Chinese University Press, 2001) and Exporting American Architecture, 1870–2000 (Routledge, 2003) and coeditor of Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts (University of Hawaii Press, 2011). Frances Terpak is curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute. She is the coauthor of the award-winning exhibition catalogue Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen (Getty Publications, 2001) and coeditor of Walls of Algiers: Narratives of the City through Text and Image (University of Washington Press, 2009).

    Brush & Shutter is copiously illustrated. . . . The interdisciplinary approach taken here rewards the reader with some highly stimulating, provocative (and sometimes divergent) ideas and conclusions. The book is a welcome contribution to the small but growing field of research on early photography in China.”
    —The History of Photography

    “Over the last five to ten years there has been a resurgence in scholarly interest in early photography in China, particularly related to the lives and work of Chinese photographers. Brush and Shutter consolidates and contributes to this scholarship. . . . This is a beautiful and fascinating book that will be of interest to scholars of both photography and China.”
    —Asian Studies Review

    220 pages
    11 x 10 1/2 inches
    61 color and 75 b/w illustrations
    ISBN 978-1-60606-054-4

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Research Institute