Located at China’s western frontier, the ancient city of Dunhuang lays at the convergence of the northern and southern routes of the Silk Road—at a crossroads of the civilizations of East Asia, Central Asia, and the Western world. From the late fourth century and until the decline of the Silk Road in the fourteenth century, Dunhuang was a bustling desert oasis—a center of trade and pilgrimage, and a gateway for new forms of art, culture, and religions.
This exhibition brings us the wonders of Dunhuang’s caves seen through the eyes of James and Lucy Lo featuring a comprehensive selection of their photographs, manuscripts, and artist renditions.
In 1943, during World War II, photojournalist James C. M. Lo (1902–1987) and his wife, Lucy, a photographer, arrived at Dunhuang by horse and donkey-drawn cart. Their ambitious 18-month project produced over 2500 black and white images that record the caves as they were in the mid-20th century, capturing many views of the interiors and exteriors that no longer exist today. They also collected fragments of ancient texts and drawings–now the largest collection of Dunhuang manuscripts in the U.S.
After moving to Taiwan in the 1950s, the couple invited a group of young artists to produce life-size copies of their cave mural photographs, and coloring was added to the renderings.
These remarkable works on view are testament to James and Lucy Lo’s mission to preserve and transmit the visual splendors of this ancient site.
The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Princeton University Art Museum and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art.