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Ink Play: Walter Benjamin's Chinese Curios

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/01/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociétés : revue des sciences humaines et sociales
Issue number1
Volume2016
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)119-130
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this paper, we explore two interconnected aspects of Walter Benjamin’s work which have hitherto received scant attention from scholars; the figure of the Chinese painter as an exemplary exponent of traditional art; and, Benjamin’s reflections on Chinese paintings as contained in his review of an exhibition held in Paris during 1937. We suggest that read in combination these reflections on Chinese artists and art provide a different and potentially interesting slant on familiar Benjaminian concepts like the “thought-image” (Denkbild) and the “dialectical image”. Indeed, we contend that the notion of “ink-play” might contribute to our understanding of the concept of modernité.