BBC Culture

The extraordinary story of Chinese art

A new UK exhibition features several centuries of Chinese painting. The Culture Show looks at the history of one of the greatest cultural traditions.

Chinese painting is one of the world’s oldest continuous artistic traditions – and so innovative that it was centuries ahead of the European art movement.

The general public’s knowledge of this tradition has been limited. But at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, a new exhibition entitled Masterpieces of Chinese Painting – the first of its kind in the UK since 1935 – will attempt to bring knowledge of this history to a wider audience.

The Culture Show’s Kate Bryan highlights the importance of the V&A’s show. She travels to China to view the caves at Mogao to discover the world’s oldest and largest collection of Buddhist paintings. And she reveals that painting in China – once viewed as a lowly artisan trade – was transformed into a revered artistic endeavour.

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