Brilliant photographs of scholars' rocks, or Chinese ornamental stones, from a leading collection
Shaped by nature and selected by man, scholars' rocks, or gongshi, have been prized by Chinese intellectuals since the Tang dynasty, and are now sought after by Western collectors as well.
They are a natural subject for the photographer Jonathan Singer, most recently acclaimed for his images of those other remarkable hybrids of art and nature, Japanese bonsai.
Here Singer turns his lens on some 150 fine gongshi, ancient and modern, from the world-class collection of Kemin Hu, a recognized authority on this art form. In his photographs, Singer captures the spiritual qualities of these stones as never thought possible in two dimensions; he shows us that scholars' rocks truly are, in Hu's words, "condensations of the vital essence and energy of heaven and earth."
Hu contributes an introductory essay on the history and aesthetics of scholars' rocks, explaining the traditional terms of stone appreciation, such as shou (thin), zhou (wrinkled), lou (channels), and tou (holes). She also provides a narrative caption for each stone, describing its history and characteristics.