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Rock Like a Cloud

Luo Jianwu, Rock Like a Cloud, 2006-2010, hanging scroll; ink on paper, Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Suzanne and Alex Rosenkrantz by exchange, © unknown, research required, 2014.9.1

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Rock Like a Cloud


Luo Jianwu (Chinese, born 1944)




hanging scroll; ink on paper

Dimensions (H x W x D)

painting: 103 in x 26 1/4 in; mounting: 125 3/8 x 36 7/8 in

Inscriptions & Markings

dates: Bing-xu qi bi; geng-yin 丙戌起筆 / 庚寅 [Bing-xu qi bi; geng-yin (丙戌起筆: I began to paint [this work] in the bingxu {Dog-Fire] year [=2006]; 庚寅 [completed in the gengyin (Tiger-Metal) year [=2010])] (丙戌起筆: I began to paint [this work] in the bingxu {Dog-Fire] year [=2006]; 庚寅 [completed in the gengyin (Tiger-Metal) year [=2010]), brushed in black ink, 丙戌起筆 in one corner; 庚寅 tucked in among rocks Language: Chinese

signature and seal: 羅建武画 ・ 羅建武 [Painted by Luo Jianwu; [seal of] Luo Jianwu] (Painted by Luo Jianwu; [seal of] Luo Jianwu), signature: brushed in black ink; seal in red intaglio, near the 'light' gray end of the scroll, centered, written in a square around a seal with 羅建武 in intaglio Language: Chinese

Collection Area

Asian Art; Modern and Contemporary Art



Object Type

hanging scroll



Credit Line

Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Suzanne and Alex Rosenkrantz by exchange

Accession Number



© unknown, research required



hanging scrolls





In this daring composition, created over a span of five years, Luo Jianwu cuts his image away from its defining frame, freeing it to be viewed from any of its four sides. Even his signature and seals encourage one to explore a range of viewing possibilities. As displayed here, the rock seems to expand infinitely upward from a base shrouded in mist. The range of ink tonalities adds spatial complexity to the form, with darker areas seeming closer to the picture plane and lighter areas receding into the background.   Luo here pits his skill with a brush against great masters of the past like Li Cheng (919–967) and Guo Xi (ca. 1020–ca. 1090), whose paintings of rocks had been likened to clouds by ancient critics.

Luo was born in Wusheng, Sichuan in 1944, and with his family migrated to Taiwan in 1949. As a child, he spent many hours in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, absorbed in studying the great masterpieces of Chinese painting. He expanded his vision by majoring in Western-style painting at the National Art Institute of Taipei. Seeking new inspiration and audiences, he moved to New York in 1987. There he was befriended by the owners of Kaikodo, a respected gallery of Chinese art that became instrumental in introducing his work to American collectors and curators. Luo returned to mainland China early in the 2000s and now makes his home in the foothills of Mount Tai in Shandong province.

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