Within the auspicious confines of the National Palace Museum of Taiwan, the second biennial Tang Prize and its six laureates were presented to the world this Thursday, September 22. Present at the gala event were Tang Prize Founder Samuel Yin, Minister-Without-Portfolio Tsung-tsong Wu, and National Palace Director Jeng-yi Lin. Like in the preceding year of the prize, the museum curated a special exhibit to echo the spirit of the Tang Prize, this time focusing on the presentation of nature and sustainability in Chinese paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and other cultural objects.
During his opening address, Samuel Yin thanked the honored guests for their coming together in Taiwan to accept the award, and asked them to enjoy this year’s especially curated exhibition.
The exhibit was more than a simple re-ordering of items from the museum collection. It was curated this time with a mind to show how the people of each Chinese dynasty interacted and lived sustainably with nature, said NPM Director Lin, who added that the exhibit looked at paintings and ceramics, as well as calligraphic works and court documents, to show the delicate balance between the human and natural worlds.
Wu, who represented the Premier of Taiwan at the event, praised the vision and humanity of such a prize and its positive impact on scholars in Taiwan.
Six recipients were announced this past June. Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer A. Doudna, Feng Zhang, and Louise Arbour all arrived in Taipei this September to receive the prize; Arthur H. Rosenfeld and William Theodore de Bary accepted the prize in absentia.
Rosenfeld and de Bary, on the advice of their doctors, accepted their respective prizes by pre-taped videos and invited their representatives to participate in the award ceremony and related prize events. Ashok Gadgil, who was given a warm introduction by Rosenfeld as a graduate student, colleague, and friend, attended the reception on behalf of his mentor. Representing de Bary at the many events of Tang Prize Week were his daughter, Brett de Bary of Cornell, and Rachel Chung, his colleague at the Committee on Asia & the Middle East at Columbia.
The night was a beginning for the Tang Prize as well as the opening ceremony for the special sustainability-inspired exhibit, “Viewing Nature in Chinese Art: A Special Exhibit of Select Artifacts,” which will run through December 22. Visitors were given a guided tour of the exhibition later that night through the five themed areas, "Inspiration from Nature," "Descriptions of Actual Scenes," "On the Subject of Seasons," "The World of Imagination," and "Humanity and Nature."
The exhibit was described by the museum director Lin today as a look at sustainable development through a historical lens, specifically in the presentation of natural scenes in Chinese art and artefacts. Included in the collection was a rare Song dynasty Ru ware warming bowl and the paintings Three Friends of Winter, Viewing a Waterfall, Fishing in Seclusion by a Willow Bank, and Ox Lowing on a Willow Bank.
Tang Prize Week 2016 runs this year from September 22 through 28, and includes a lecture and fora series, a concert and exhibition, and the titular Tang Prize Award Ceremony.