ChinaConnectU is delighted to feature Joan Lebold Cohen’s marvelous photographs of China, and to continue an association that began with the 2009 Berkshire Encyclopedia of China. We believe, as did the sixteenth-century author Gaspar da Cruz, of the Portuguese Dominican Mission in Asia, that, “China is much more than it sounds, and the sight must be seen and not heard, because hearing it is nothing in comparison with seeing it.” (The quotation comes from the first Western book published about China, Tractado em que so cõtam muito por esteso as cousas da China [Treatise in which is told many things about China], published in 1569.)

Joan Lebold Cohen began studying Chinese art in 1960 and it has informed her vision as a photographer and served as inspiration for the exhibitions she organized and books she has written. Living many years in China, Japan and Hong Kong where the art, landscape and people have informed her head, heart and lens. She wrote, exhibited and published photographs of Asia since 1973, and in China Today and her Ancient Treasures co-authored with her husband Jerome A. Cohen, an expert in Chinese law. The book was a Book of the Month Club alternate. Ms. Cohen organized the first of a number of exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art called Painting the Chinese Dream in the US in 1982-3. At the same time she exhibited her own photographs in the U.S. and Asia. Her 1987 book, The New Chinese Painting: 1949-1986 was the first book in English about contemporary Chinese art after the Cultural Revolution 1966-1976. Since 1996 her photographs have been shown in New York’s Soho Photo Gallery. Many of the books she wrote were illustrated with her photographs: Yunnan School: A Renaissance in Chinese Art, as well as China Today and The New Chinese Painting. Other of her books include Angkor: Monuments of the God-Kings, and Buddha. Ms. Cohen was a lecturer in Asian Art and Film at Tufts University/School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts from 1968-1990 as well a serving in the Education Department of the Museum. She is an associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard and a member of the Modern China Seminar at Columbia University.

A virtual gallery of Joan’s photographs is available at

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