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Two Narrative Patterns of Chinese Artistic Modernity in the First Half of the Twentieth Century —— A Case Study of “Pioneering: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Art (1911-1949)”...

2019-06-04 1051 people interested

ABSTRACTAs a deepening of the curatorial theory of the exhibition “Pioneering: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Art (1911-1949)”, this thesis aims to investigate the artists who studied abroad in France and chose to develop Chinese art from the traditional to the modern at the historical juncture for Chinese art in the first half of the twentieth century. Both pioneering artists who explored “scientific” pursuit of modernity by Western academic Classicalism,Naturalism,Realism and those who held more closely to various Western modernistic schools with “democratic” pursuit of modernity have collectively facilitated the modernization of Chinese art in the first half of the twentieth century, shaped and developed the basic aspect of the twentieth-century Chinese art. Key wordsChinese artists abroad in France;Modernity;Twentieth-century Chinese artStudying abroad(including study tour)was one of the most notable phenomena in Chinese history, particularly cultural history, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. China’s modern study abroad movement began at the end of the nineteenth century targeting at Japan. Around the year 1906, Qing government started to officially send a few young people to study in Europe and America. After this, from the late Qing dynasty to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, there were many students who traveled abroad on government scholarships or their own funds. They energetically studied political, economic, military, intellectual, cultural, and artistic subjects. After they returned to China, they dedicated their immense energies and made great contributions, becoming pioneers and founders in many fields.In the field of fine arts, the core destination of the study abroad wave was Paris, France. Wang Jiuru and Wu Fading [1] both transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1911, marking the pioneering journey of artists who studied in France [2]. Following their steps, a few self-funded young students such as Li Chaoshi [3] and Fang Junbi [4] went to France. In 1915, Cai Yuanpei founded the “Work-Study Program” in France with Wu Zhihui, Li Shizeng and Wu Yuzhang to organize and advocate studying in Europe and America. After that, the number of students studying in France surged including self and public-funded, half-work-half-study students. Lin Fengmian was one of the first wave of half-work-half-study artists in France. In 1919 the Beiyang Government specifically allocated one government-funded quota to overseas study in the major of fine arts for the first time. Xu Beihong obtained the quota and became the first government-funded overseas student - although this quota was obtained with the help of Cai Yuanpei.  With historical mission endued by the times and himself, Xu Beihong began his “art for life's sake” pursuit in France. He believed Southern School painting was the reason of the decadence of Chinese painting, and the way to improve and save the declining Chinese painting [5] is realistic painting, which can be expected as a way out from traditional to modern art.  The “realistic painting” Xu Beihong promoted was the “realism” in Chen Duxiu’s “Art Revolution ( an answer to Lu Cheng’s letter )” ( Lu Cheng’s letter was published in the journal New Youth on 15th [1] December 1918) issued in New Youth’s Volume 6, No. 1 edition on 15th January 1919, which may be the first appeal to improve Chinese painting with Western Realism. [6]In October the same year, a little earlier than Chen Duxiu’s article, Cai Yuanpei emphasized at the speech of the second class of the just founded Society of Painting in Peking University: “ I have two hopes for painting, one is to practice painting from life, the other is to keep on painting. Chinese and Western painting are different from the beginning. One starts Chinese painting by copying the previous, while Western painting by drawing from life…now our generation should use scientific methods…to create art.” [7]Xu Beihong was invited to be the teacher of watercolor painting at Society of Painting in Peking University at that time. To grasp the "the techniques already invented” mentioned in his article, which is the “scientific methods” in Cai Yuanpei’s words, Xu Beihong sailed across the seas to study Academic Realism at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts for eight years.[8] After returning in September 1927, he actively participated in creating oil paintings of history theme in great scale in response to Cai Yuanpei’s urge of using “scientific method” to create China’s own history paintings; on the other hand, he devoted his life to aesthetic education, teaching young students in public and private art schools all around the country to promote realistic pedagogy. At the same time, following the example of Cai Yuanpei’s recommendation, he recommended repeatedly multiple young students to the Republic of China Government for chances to study art in France, England, and America. Besides, with his personal impact and influential activities, a large number of like-minded people were engaged to rally around him, forming the “Xu Beihong system”. The academic realism he pursued can be seen as the response of the art circle to the beliefs in “Science” and “Democracy” in the New Culture Movement.During the New Culture Movements that began in 1915, Chen Duxiu brought forward: “Chinese people who want to get rid of ignorance…should attach equal importance to science and human rights.”[9] He vividly personified “Democracy” and “Science” as “Mr. De” and “Mr. Sai”, [10] and strengthened “ Only these two gentlemen, can dispel all the darkness in politics, academia and thought.” [11] Thus a group of social elites represented by Chen Duxiu not only raised the concept of “Democracy” and “Science” since the Revolution of 1911 to a self-conscious value, but also related it to the rise and fall of the country. In particular, “Democracy”is about resisting despotism and monarchy, to enlighten the people to be their own masters instead of physical or mental slaves, and to realize individual liberation and spiritual freedom. “Science” is about revolving against old moral and ethic values, against blind feudal obedience, to promote positivist and empirical philosophy, which is “Shi Li”in Chen Duxiu’s words whose focus is on rationality.As China's historical choice after its abandoning of the traditional society, the beliefs in “Science” and “Democracy” signaled the revolutionary change in the first half of the twentieth century, which is regarded as the symbol of modernization in China. In face of the time of turmoil, Xu Beihong chose the path of “saving the nation by science” to be the guiding ideology of his artistic exploration. However, although he said that he was “firmly going on a lonely path”, there is a large number of companions that went with him. There were some artists who were also inclined to academic naturalism like Xu Beihong, such as Li Jinfa, Li Fengbai, Lu Sibai, Wu Zuoren, Wang Linyi, Liu Kaiqu, Xiao Shufang, Han Leran, Xie Touba, Qin Xuanfu, Tang Yihe, Lu Xiaguang, Hu Shanyu, Zeng Zhushao, Wang Ziyun, Hua Tianyou, Zhang Chongren, Li Ruinian, Liao Xinxue, Huang Juesi; and Wu Fading who had practiced naturalism before Xu Beihong; and other artists who were inclined to academic neo-classicism, such as Wang Rujiu, Guo Yinglin, Chang Shuhong and so on. These artists who studied abroad followed precise, rational, and “Scientific” academic realistic plastic arts system, to explore the language of oil painting while experiencing new painterly representation of the world that differs from traditional Chinese painting, which was to reflect the reality with comparative precision and objectivity, rather than only “expressing feelings” in Southern School painting. To some extent they achieved the vision brought forward by Kang Youwei, Cai Yuanpei, Xu Beihong and Chen Duxiu in the first decade of the twentieth century to improve traditional Chinese painting with western naturalism. The artists that followed the western systematic naturalist modeling languages such as scientific proportion, perspective, spatial effect, volume, materiality, color tone, and representation of details to improve traditional Chinese painting, was represented by Xu Beihong, whose “ink and color painting” and “nocturne” concepts , revival of traditional Chinese figure painting, transformation of traditional mountains and waters painting to modern landscape painting and exploration of the naturalist modeling language  of traditional bird-and-flower paintings and animal paintings provided various possibilities and practicalities for the transformation of traditional Chinese painting into modern art in the first half of the twentieth century.In comparison, Xu Beihong’s classmate at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts Lin Fengmian [12], responding to the call of the time and himself, favored the value “art for art’s sake”. He was not obsessed with the “Science” of academic naturalism. Instead, He was more interested in “Democracy”: He was obsessed with Western modernist genres outside the academy. In his opinion, these genres enabled artists to fully communicate human emotions, which is the core of his obsession with art. Through his whole life, he had been pursuing the ideas that “ Art is the expression of emotions”. This is owing to the education of his tutor Yancesse in Dijon, [14] and his first German wife Roda[2] , his education concept inherited from Cai Yuanpei which highlights “academic freedom and diversity”, and his own characters. Because these genres valued artists’ unique life experiences and artistic expressions, the absolute respect for individuality and the freedom in expressing personality were the keys to the artists’ fascination with modernism genres. The respect and the freedom also illustrated the value “democracy” perfectly. [3] According to the black-and-white pictures in early literature, Lin Fengmian created some large oil paintings from 1924 to 1927, such as Exploration , The History of Mankind, Humanity, The Folk, and so on. The themes and subjects were filled with a sense of poignant history, ardent care for reality, wild strokes and fauvist colors, the form of cubism, [15] the expressiveness and representation of German Expressionism. Plus Lin Fengmian’s unique tremendous momentum and honest emotions,  his works had impressed Cai Yuanpei greatly. Cai Yuanpei spoke highly of Lin Fengmian. It should be noted that only on Lin Fengmian Cai saw the perfect practitioner of his “replacing religion with aesthetic education” theory. Cai eagerly invited 25-year-old Lin Fengmian, who at the time was still pursuing his study, back to be the the director of the Beiping Art School, and entrusted him with important posts one after another. During his period at the Hangzhou Art School, Lin adhered to Cai Yuanpei’s “academic freedom and diversity” educational concept, gathered and cultivated numerous artistic talents, making Hangzhou the key position for communicating and practicing Western modernist genres. Those who shared a close relationship with Lin Fengmian and the Hangzhou Art School include Wu Dayu and Zhao Wuji who were inclined to abstract art, Wu Guanzhong who pursued formal aesthetics, Lei Guiyuan who was after the École de Paris, and Hu Shanyu and Dong Xiwen [16] who sought after excellence in the purity of the language of oil painting.As mentioned above, on the second class of the Society of Painting in Peking University, Cai Yuanpei emphasized the ideal of creating art with scientific approach of western naturalism, which was achieved by a group of academic neo-classicist and naturalist artists represented by Xu Beihong. Cai Yuanpei believed that “The most popular expressionism today is close to the Chinese expressionism.” [17] The expressionism here mainly referred to Post Impressionism, Fauvism, École de Paris and German Expressionism. Besides Lin Fengmian, Liu Haisu also highly agreed with with Cai Yuanpei’s art view.After founding the first ever private art school in China in 1912, Liu Haisu had made a dramatic and lasting impact in Shanghai through art education, artistic creation and social activities. To some extent, Shanghai in 1920s and 1930s can be named as Liu Haisu’s time, or more accurately speaking, the time of Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism promoted by Liu Haisu. At that time Liu Haisu had only done a brief research on Japanese modern art and had not yet been to France. However, he had read extensive art journals and came in contact with the most popular and the most avant-garde schools of painting, including Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism. Cai Yuanpei had a deep understanding of Liu Haisu’s work. In 1922, he complimented that “Mr. Liu’s work was inclined to Post-impressionism. He was particularly obsessed with depicting outdoor light. His art was intuitive and natural,” and “profoundly expressing his unique characters,” which is “very strong”, and he “always expressed himself subjectively”. [18] Ni Yide shared the same opinions.In February 1929, Cai Yuanpei won over a chance for Liu Haisu to go on a research tour in Europe in the name of Researcher for the Ministry of Education. Unlike other artists on tour, Liu Haisu went for art exchanges as an accomplished master-grade “visiting scholar” instead of a student. His landscape oil paintings from 1929 to 1931 had obvious Impressionist, Post-impressionist and Fauvist style; many of which were sketches from life in the perspective some of his favorite modernist artists. [19]After returning from Europe, Liu Haisu devoted himself to writing Xi Hua Yuan, which systematically introduced western modernist genres and especially spoke highly of Post-impressionism and Fauvism. The book was good at comparing western modernist genres with ancient traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting. Such comparison was also frequently used by Cai Yuanpei. Through the entire decade of the 1930s, Liu Haisu gained a larger variety of followers in Shanghai, further promoting the development and acceptance of the modernist genres that went popular outside the French academy in Shanghai.Pang Xunqin, who was keen on cubism, the “Storm Society” that focused on the exploration of formal language, Zhang Xian who was passionate about the École de Paris, Pan Yuliang and Tang Yunyu who explored impressionism, Li Chaoshi who mastered pastel picture, and Zhou Bichu who was obsessed with Divisionism, all had a close relationship with Liu Haisu and the city of Shanghai.In general, Chinese artists abroad in France in the first half of the twentieth century, had not only accepted “scientific” western education on neo-classicism, naturalism, and realism, but also brought back “democratic” western modernist genres. They had brought new categories and ideas such as oil paintings (western paintings), sculptures, sketches, toner paintings and watercolor paintings to the Chinese art of the early twentieth century, and even new lifestyles connected with these ideas, thereby becoming one of the most important groups active in China, and laying a great foundation to the development Chinese art in the first half of the twentieth century.As mentioned above, at this historical juncture for Chinese art in the first half of the twentieth century, the artists who studied abroad in France chose to develop Chinese art from the traditional to the modern, thereby becoming the pioneers and practitioners of modernist culture in twentieth-century Chinese art. They were the founders and predecessors of Chinese art’s shift from tradition to modernity. Both the artists who explored the “Scientific” approach of western classicism, realism, and naturalism and the artists who held more closely to the western “Democratic" modernism ended up at the same destination, successfully pushed forward the development of modernism of Chinese art of the first half of the twentieth century, and the shaping and transformation of the twentieth-century Chinese art. Notes:[1] In 1906, Wang Rujiu was sent to study the army as one of the first officials sent by the Beiyang Accelerated Military Academy of the Qing government. In 1911, he gave up military studies and transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Burdell Sculpture Studio to study oil painting and sculpture. Wu Fading was sent to France to study law in 1911, and in the same year transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts to study oil painting.[2] This is why the year in the exhibition title “Pioneering: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Art (1911-1949)” (hereinafter referred to as the Exhibition) is 1911, rather than the first year of the Republic of China, which was 1912. Of course, from the perspective of history, 1911 is also very important due to the Revolution of 1911, especially the concept of “democracy” and “science” inspired by the the Revolution of 1911 is closely related to this exhibition and this article. To the author’s delight, the division of history and art history into periods coincide with each other perfectly in the monographic study of this exhibition.[3] In 1912, Li Chaoshi enrolled in the Sellman School of Painting[4]  in Paris, France, and then transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.[4] In 1912, Fang Junbi was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux in France. In 1919, she was admitted to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts together with Xu Beihong.[5] Xu Beihong gave a speech on “The Method of Improving Chinese Painting” on May 14, 1918 at the Society of Painting in Peking University. Xu Beihong's speech was shown in the Journal of Peking University on May 23, 24 and 25 consecutively with appendix added. [6] At the beginning of his article, Chen Duxiu said: “If we want to improve Chinese painting, we must first revolutionize the Four Wangs. In order to improve Chinese painting, the realistic spirit of foreign paintings could not be left aside.” At the end of the paper, Chen put forward “...if you do not overthrow it (here referred to the Four Wangs), it would be the greatest obstacle to introducing realism and improving Chinese painting.”[7] Quoted from: Zhao Li, Yu Ding (ed.), “Chinese Oil Painting Literature”, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, 2002, p. 413. [8] Xu Beihong's works such as “Family Portrait of Yang Zhongzi” and “Sound of the Flute” in this exhibition are typical examples.[9] Quoted from the first volume of Selected Works of Chen Duxiu, Shanghai People's Publishing House, 2009, p.162.[10] Mr. De: abbreviation of “Democratic” in Chinese; Mr. Sai: Abbreviation of “Science” in Chinese.[11] Selected Works of Chen Duxiu, vol. 2, p. 10.[12] At the end of 1918, Lin Fengmian came to Paris with the half-work-half-study group. In February 1920, he entered the École nationale supérieure d'art de Dijon in France. In September 1920, he transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and was in Fernand Cormon[5] 's studio with Xu Beihong.[13] Lin Fengmian believes in Tolstoy's theory that “art is the expression of human emotions”, and Cai Yuanpei's theory that “replacing religion with aesthetic education”, which constituted his basic artistic view. This is elaborated in his long article  “To the National Art Circle” published in 1927. [14] In 1920, Lin Fengmian entered the École nationale supérieure d'art de Dijon to study oil painting. The academy’s director Yancesse appreciated him, told him not to learn only the academic way, especially not to become a member of the academism. [15] In terms of color application and tone processing, it can be seen from the “Thought”, which is also known as “Grief thought”in the exhibition of “ Chinese Artists Abroad in France” in 1926. This painting depicts the first wife of Lin Fengmian, Roda, a German girl. They met in Germany in 1924 and soon fell in love and got married. However, Roda died of puerperal fever in 1925. Lin Fengmian was very sad for a long time. This work should be created by Lin Fengmian based on his memory shortly after Roda's death. In the painting, Roda closed her eyes, implying that she had passed away. The black and white version of the work was included in the second edition of Chen Baoyi’s  The Beauty of the Human Body in 1929, which is a rare early oil painting of Lin Fengmian’s. This work is typically Fauvist, with form of Cubism and representation of German Expressionism.[16] In 1939, Dong Xiwen graduated from the National Art College, which was merged by Peiping Art College and Hangzhou Art College.  He was recommended by the academy to study at the Higher School of Fine Arts Paris’s Hanoi branch in Vietnam. He received guidance from French teachers, saw a lot of Western European painting books and original works, and was exposed to the Vietnamese lacquer paintings that are rich in color. Due to the outbreak of the war, Chinese government cut the fund and he was forced to return to China in advance. During his study in Hanoi, Dong Xiwen directly received the training of classicist painting techniques and aesthetic experience of the French academism, which constituted an important factor in the formation of his unique oil painting language and personal style in the future. In June 1946, Dong Xiwen ended his decade of unsettled life and returned to his parents’ home in Hangzhou. Dong painted these two portraits for his parents with the classicist painting techniques he learned from the Paris Art School in Hanoi, Vietnam, in order to express his respect for the elderly parents and nostalgia after the longstanding separation. As Dong Xiwen did not receive French academic classicist education in actual France, he became the only artist in this exhibition who did not set foot in French territory.  Dong Xiwen will be included in this exhibition in the hope of arousing in-depth discussions in the academic circle regarding the cultural influence of the artists studying in France from different perspectives. [17] Cai Yuanpei: “Exhibit Catalogue of the Chinese Venue at the Paris Exposition”. Quoted from Jin Ya (ed.), “Literature Collection of Chinese Modern Aesthetics: Cai Yuanpei Volume”, Zhejiang University Press, 2009. [18] Quoted from: Zhao Li, Yu Ding (ed.),  “Chinese Oil Painting Literature”,  Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, 2002, p. 448-449.[19] In this exhibition, the painting “Okra” pays tribute to Van Gogh, “ Westminster Sunset ” pays tribute to Monet, while “ Rodin's Model” pays tribute to Matisse. References:Li Zehou, “The History of Chinese Thought”, Anhui Literature and Art Publishing House, 1999Wang Hui, “The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought”, Sanlian Bookstore, 2008Shi Quansheng (ed.), “The Cultural History of the Republic of China”, Jilin Literature and History Publishing House, 1990 Li Zhujin and Wan Qingli, “The History of Modern Chinese Painting”, Zhejiang University Press, 2012Zhao Li, Yu Ding (ed.), Chinese Oil Painting Literature, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, 2002Wang Zhen (ed.), “The Chronicle of Xu Beihong”, Shanghai Pictorial Publishing House, 2006 Author | Hongmei (Curator of the “Chinese Artists Abroad in France” Exhibition  , associate professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, master student supervisor, director of the Department of Theoretical Publishing of the CAFA Art Museum)The original article was published in Art Research vol.2, 2019 ...More

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2019-05-29 1021 people interested

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2019-04-12 1042 people interested

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2019-03-07 1212 people interested

When a country falls and its power declines, it is imperative to take reform. After the May Fourth New Culture Movement, the “tide of studying abroad”, as a way to transform China and make it strong, became one of the most characteristic phenomenon of Chinese art at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Studying in Japan, France, and later the Soviet Union were three routes of studying abroad and became three holy lands for Chinese art moving towards modernity. If “studying in Japan” was the beginning of China’s entry into formal art education, then “studying in France” established the system and pattern of Chinese modern art development. The “Pioneering” exhibition traces the violent history of Chinese artists studying in France as well as its influence on the modern advancement of Chinese art. Retrospect is for looking into the future firmly. In the early 20th century, despite frequent wars, it was full of stories, and the development of the reform promoted the exchange and integration of ideas across regions and cultures. In the past two years, more and more early case studies have been conducted, but a large-scale academic review is still in short supply, so this grand exhibition is planned and organized under such a background. On the occasion of the continental celebration of CAFA, it mobilizes academic resources, as CAFA Art Museum calls up a curatorial team from multiple channels to construct this exhibition, inviting experts and scholars who have conducted an in-depth research on the field of “studying abroad in France”, including Dong Song, Philippe CINQUINI, Liu Libin, Jiang Mingyang, to participate in the curating work. After carefully checking historical materials and searching for missing pieces of works, the curatorial team sorted out the final appearance of the exhibition from interlaced clues. The topic of the exhibition involves multiple perspectives, such as the spread of Western modern art in China, the transformation of Chinese art to modernity, and the starting point of Chinese modern art education, and so on. With compact structure and grand scale the cultural phenomenon of “studying abroad in France” is deeply explored and presented in the exhibition.Oil painting comes from the West, and the establishment of its discourse subject is inseparable from the way of teaching and learning. At that time, France was the center of world art, China was in the climax of the tide of “Studying Abroad in France”, and Europe was also on the node of transition from classical tradition to various trends of modern art. When the first batch of Chinese artist studying in France returned to China, they displayed their talent to build schools, resume education, start publications, and hold exhibitions in devastation, and put the artistic concepts and techniques they learned in France into practice in the social soil of China. Their drastic speculation on modern art was like a ripple in the pool of China. How to comb through this complex history without having any prejudice? The curator Hong Mei mentions that when it comes to the transformation of Chinese art in the first half of the 20th century, whether they were pioneers of exploration who tended to modern appeals of Western classical academia school and Realism, or those forerunners who were on the road of modern appeal approaching various Western modernist schools, they jointly propelled the formation and development of the basic appearance of Chinese art in the 20th century. From this way of thinking, the exhibition set up an open space for showing them on the same stage. As the exhibition clues move forward, the diverse and rich artistic ideas of these artists of that time are presented in a broader framework, and finally back to the central theme.In the premise of following the above-mentioned curatorial ideas, the details of the exhibition are also made clear with more designs that fit in the whole picture. The presentation starts with the works of Wu Fading and Wang Rujiu who were among the first artists studying in France and ends with Liu Ziming, the last artist who studied in France in 1949. Xu Beihong was the first student to study in France at public expense, and many vital works created by him during his study in France are displayed at the beginning of the exhibition. Wu Guanzhong and Zhao Wuji went to France at the end of the whole trend, and directly opened the prelude of another era in their entire artistic creation. The well-planned layout of square shape, both objective and monolithic, not only give consideration to the personal appearance of the artists but also points to the deep reasons and driving forces for the formation of the phenomenon of studying in France. It concentratedly reproduces the scene of the mixed group of students studying in France who pursued Modernism, which touches the audience’s heart after watching the exhibition. In addition to the masterpieces of famous painters, the curator Hong Mei has done much hard work to select works and complete the list of exhibits in the process of sorting. The exhibition excavates and brings out the works of artists such as Xie Touba, Guo Yinglin, Wang Rujiu, Li Fengbai, Lei Guiyuan, Liu Ziming, and so on, which enables the works of many artists studying in France who have faded out of mainstream art history to be exposed to the public again. The scholar Dong Song traces the historical data of Guo Yinglin, an artist missing in the history circle for a long time, and makes the three Guo Yinglin’s paintings, which have been covered with dust in CAFA Art Museum for many years, be shown to the public for the first time, which attracts the attention of experts and scholars again, and also reflects the curatorial team’s respect for original history appearance as well as their self-consciousness for mining historical materials.Among the courses selected by many artists who studied in France, oil painting, sketch and sculpture were the main subjects. However, due to the small amount of existing historical materials and objects of early sculptures, the research on sculpture and modern sculpture has been quite difficult as it has been in a weak position. In this “Pioneering” exhibition, apart from the clues from canvas works, the sculpture section “Chinese Sculptors Who Studied in France: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Sculpture” that curated by Liu Libin is another highlight of the exhibition and forms a complementary perspective.This special exhibition uses three sections to review the main activities of sculptors who studied in France. From a large number of raw materials, images and works on display, it is surprising to find that their creation styles are quite distinct. During their time in France, their nude portraits showed the exact proportions of the human body, in line with the artistic aesthetic expression techniques, and many works even won the salon award. With the development need of Chinese monument sculpture and urban space, a large number of public sculpture projects have been promoted. In order to make sculpture survive in the realistic soil, these sculptors made more explorations, changes, and practices in the combination of Western sculpture and traditional Chinese sculpture.Due to these complex historical reasons, in order to highlight the academic value and practical significance of modern Chinese sculpture in the first half of the 20th century, curator Liu Libin led a shooting team to Chongqing, Chengdu, and other cities to search for the public sculpture that inspired people during the Anti-Japanese War. By using aerial photos and holographic projection, they try their best to bring the audience close to the context in which these sculptures were created, through showing original works, presenting graphics and texts, and restoring public sculptures with 3D reconstruction. Among them, Liu Kaiqu’s “Monument of Unknown Heroes” is presented vividly with the high-tech way of 3D images, which is an innovative way to attract viewers to have a more comprehensive and multi-level understanding of the pioneers of modern sculpture.The man who eats the fruit thinks of the tree, and the man who drinks the water thinks of the source. Tracking back to the cause of knowledge and context, the special exhibition “Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Their French Teachers”, combs through the influence of those French teachers on Chinese artists who had studied in France, and thus leads to a hidden clue that promoted the formation of Modernist ideas of Chinese artists – French teachers. Curator Philip CINQUINI has conducted a profound study on Xu Beihong as well as the learning process and teacher-student relationship of Chinese artists studying in France in the early of the 20th century. From this point of view, compared with the migration process of different technical elements moving from one civilization to another, it is more important that artists absorbed these elements from France and practice them in China. During the process, the connection built between Chinese artists and French artists had played a crucial role.In this special exhibition, the curator selected the works from four French artist of Academism of École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris (ENSBA): Fernand Cormon, Paul Albert Besnard, Pascal DAGNAN-BOUVERET, and Francois Flameng; the artists who had associated with the modernist movement of the early 20th century; early Faurist painter Othon Friesz, and two French Cubist painters Andre Lhote and Jean Souverbie. They either taught or directly trained at independent colleges and had a direct impact on the thinking of Chinese students in the process of teaching them. The exhibition also presents the works of French teachers who had traveled to China or Asia to teach, such as André Maire, who had taught Dong Xiwen at the branch school of ENSBA in Hanoi, Vietnam. André Claudot used to teach at Beiping Art School in Beijing and then went to Hangzhou with Lin Fengmian.In this special section, all the details of Chinese artists taking Western painters as the reference gather together and eventually lead to the history of the direction selection and appearance formation of Chinese art transformation in the first half of the 20th century. It also brings about the profound issue about choosing artistic view in the past a hundred years of exploration.In 1917, Cai Yuanpei, Li Shizeng and other artists established the Sino-French Education Association and a Work-Study program in Beijing. For that, a large number of art students gained the opportunity to study in France under a study-work basis. There were more than one hundred art students studying in France, and in addition to ENSBA, many students spent their time in private studios, becoming the largest number of international students at that time. In an era of great changes, the pioneering students studied with determination and perseverance, endured the loneliness of being in a foreign country, and pursued true knowledge of art while feeling the free air of art in France at that time, and then continuously prompted the emergence of different associations. The well-known ones include “Hopps Association”, “The Association of Chinese Artists in France”, “Chinese Art Society in France”, and so on. On April 2, 1933, The Association of Chinese Artists in France was founded at Chang Shuhong’s residence in Paris, France. Chang Shuhong expressed in the article “The Establishment of The Association of Chinese Artists in France” (published in the special issue for the Association of Chinese Artists in France, No.8, Volume 2, Yifeng magazine) that, “we feel deeply comforted in spirit by the freedom to comment on the state of the art world and art problems, yet in order to consolidate our foundation and develop our external cause, it seems that we need an appropriate organization.” By April 1934, the Association of Chinese Artists in France had held 16 meetings in one year (according to Li Han’s preliminary study on the artists’ group of the Association of Chinese Artists in France in 1930s). It went through several different historical periods and continued to play a role until around 1950. In 1984, the last president of the association, Mr. Pan Yuliang, returned to China with relevant materials, which enabled the data of the association activities after 1934 to be able to enter the research field, and scholar Dong Song made an in-depth study on it. Dong Song and Jiang Mingyang jointly curated the special exhibition of “A Village in a Foreign Land: Association of Chinese Artists Abroad in France”, and based on the analysis of the three historical development stages of the association to present relevant materials to the audience completely for the first time. Within the exhibition, there is a member list of the association, which involves more than 110 artists from the first session to the reelection of it in 1945, and includes information collected about them: portrait, birth and death year, birthplace, subject, and the period of their stay in France. It is a collection and presentation of precious academic historical materials. However, over the turbulent years, it has been difficult to verify the birth and death years of some artists and find their photo materials. Without the carrying out of these research works, they would disappear into the long history.To some extent, this special exhibition serves as documentary support for the main exhibition. Through essays, letters, manuscripts, photos of activities, original works that created for fundraising the Anti-Japanese War, and other valuable objects and documents, intertwined organically with visual works of other exhibition areas, the viewers can read the artists’ minds, perceive their context, and then dig out a lot of dramatic stories behind them. As a warm place and spiritual home for those living and studying in France, the association had carried their ideals and persistence, their meetings and partings, providing a silhouette to see the ups and downs of the trend of “Studying Abroad in France”. ...More

UNDER THE SKIN OF THE ART OF MARC QUINN...

2019-02-25 1339 people interested

Marc Quinn is an acclaimed British artist. The first work of his that came to our knowledge was Self, the blood head, from which our fascination with him began. We often wonder, at the present time, how a contemporary artist would work on, think about and confront the vastness of art. It is not a question that everyone can respond to or address profoundly; as a result, the distinctions and diversity of art have developed as it is now. Marc Quinn is an artist who has an intuitive sense for life; it does not come from any intentions of lecturing others, or a posteriori rules for regulating what art is or not. I have been to the UK many times in the past three years and visited Quinn’s studio four or five times, during which I enjoyed our conversations, including a formal interview. As well as having read multiple catalogues and numerous publications on him, I was able to look at and learn about Quinn through a close-up lens. His art career path manifests the fact that the key of making art is by reflecting on life and thinking liberally about the world. Since childhood, he has nurtured a curiosity in things and materiality in general, which is themost basic and raw human quality; as long as one knows how to utilise, practise and develop it, it can be transformed into art that is systematic and meaningful. The presence of art speaks for the essence of itself: boundless imagination and free will.As the fruit of Quinn’s boundless imagination, he has created art such as making breads to replicate the shape and lines of his own hands. Each person has unique palm lines. When you eat the breads, they become a part of your body, an incarnate of yourself. The act can be further extended to the notion of Holy Communion bread, therefore eating the breads, likewise, is like a conduit to the sacred. This extended imagination has transcended any art forms and techniques; without the former, the latter would profoundly lose its significance; and art, nominally, would fail to have its initial impetus and fundamentality.In the realm of the contemporary, art is constantly in flux – partly because we have a developed fine art education and communication infra-structure, whereby people, both art professionals and the general pub-lic, have their own prior expectations and presuppositions about art. If  something were to fall out of their range of known methodologies or patterns for art, one might expect misreading and suspicion to arise; even the validity of being regarded as ‘art’ would be in question. However, contemporary art intends to disregard all the rules; it can only reconcilethe intuition of the true self and reflections on life when the application of art forms becomes the least important constituent. Marc Quinn, for instance, was not bound to social or ethical norms when he pondered the human phenomenon of ‘incomplete bodies’: he noticed how the fragmented classical statuary in museums was highly admired by viewers as a paradigm of art; and how this anti-utilitarian, entrenched aesthetic perspective consciously overlooks the disparity in the real life of disability and the disabled, who are undoubtedly human beings with great life value and dignity. This inspired Quinn to make a sculpture of his artist friend Alison Lapper, Alison Lapper Pregnant. This sculpture depicts a nude Alison who was born without arms and with shortened legs, in pure white Carrara marble, gazing far forth and looking serene, solemn and peaceful. In 2005, it was chosen by the commissioning committee  in London to sit on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth. This sculpture raised widespread attention and debate in that year and an amplified reinterpretation even featured in the London Paralympics opening ceremony in 2012, leading to worldwide celebration. This work can only be borne of a reverence for life; it is not constrained by any prior doctrines; and its existence is glorified by the thoughts about life and the sanctified beings.  Quinn’s Self(1991) has become an internationally-recognised classic in contemporary art history, as a life-size cast of the artist’s head made up of ten pints of his own blood extracted and stored over a period of several months. The work is cryogenically frozen and displayed in a  specially-made refrigeration unit; the refrigerator also functions as a plinth while the technology secures the work survival. Albeit being an artificial product of technology, the blood head is formed of a material collected from a living being; its physicality recalls a notion of biological cyphers and the religious interpretations of the meanings of life, which in turn embody the philosophy of the mind and body. We could trace a resonance of many great minds in this mighty work, from René Descartes’s ‘Je pense, donc je suis’, the more recent Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ‘perception and corporeity’, to the ultimate question of body and soul that human beings have been strenuously seeking for millennia (unfortunately the work will not be shown in the exhibition at CAFA Art Museum this time, due to the prohibition of importing blood-based objects). Quinn’s artistic creation is borne of liberal thinking that echoes the origin of life, derives from an understanding of it and shows respect for it. I have seen works and books of various languages and multiple forms  and types at Quinn’s studio, not in any order of taxonomy of art education or making. His art does not comply with any textbook rules. As a Cambridge graduate of History of Art and History, and not of fine art practice, he has probed the boundaries of academic classifications; materials and methodologies merely serve as a route to visualise the perceptions from his life experience and thinking. To complete his ‘Alison Lapper’ series, he made a mould of her body at his studio and then oversaw the best stone-masons in Italy in carving the finished figure out of marble. This is about life’s ‘embodiment’ experience. Quinn uses the best practices available to fulfil his artistic vision and assure the quality he envisages. Art has no rules, and this is the essence of art, which has been repeatedly proven by numerous predecessors and by common consent of the modern-day social community. Blood, DNA, performance and interaction, marble, bronze, stone, painting, photography, installations – when isolated from their connotations, they are just raw materials. Once materials are endowed with symbolic life meanings, that is when the solemnity emerges – as it is said, ‘the transfiguration of the commonplace’. Today the most striking and sublime art works pay tribute to the living,  thus, they are apt to be accepted and agreed by us, ourselves equally in pursuit of the meaning of our own existence. Despite a tortuous journey, the history of modern and contemporary art is the best testimony: this is the way it shall be. Marc Quinn is an artist among the most scintillating stars that will be praised in art history.BY WANG CHUNCHEN (DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND CURATOR CAFA ART MUSEUM) ...More

Reading “Pioneering” Exhibition: Collective Achievements and Individual Characteristics...

2019-01-26 1818 people interested

At the beginning of 2019, the anticipated grand exhibition “Pioneering: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Art” is unveiled at CAFA Art Museum. It is an exhibition of historical significance, and for the first time, the visitors can have a look at these artists as a group through their original works. The first impression of the exhibition is that the works are diverse. When you really see this exhibition, you will find that it presents a show with multiple interpretation spaces. ...More

The First Chinese Student Who Won the School Award of ENSBA and was Regarded as the Best Artist Then by Chang Shuhong!...

2019-01-26 1154 people interested

Guo Yinglin was an artist admired by Chang Shuhong.Chang Shuhong mentioned more than once thatGuo Yinglin was the best artist at that time,However, none of us have seen his paintings.All of them were lost due to historical reasons,and were highly appraised only in the literature.In the exhibition “Pioneering: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Art (1911-1949)”, many art treasures which have only existed in the legend are displayed for the first time, and many art masters who have been forgotten in history come into our view again, including Guo Yinglin, who had studied in France in the early days, with his three legendary oil paintings. It is the first time that Guo Yinglin’s works are shown in front of the public, and also the first time that the three dust-laden important artworks that have been kept in CAFA for more than half a century appear in public.Guo Yinglin, Copied Millet “The Gleaners”, Oil on canvas, 82x108.5cm, 1920s-1930sGuo Yinglin was undoubtedly a unique missing person. The first recording of him was discovered in “The Meeting Minutes of the Association of Chinese Artists in France”, which wrote “Guo Yinglin, male, painting, correspondence address – Xiamen Jimei School, returned to China”. For a long time, we have known nothing of his experience and achievements, nor of his works, and thus, he became a veritable missing man in art history.Guo Yinglin, copied Corot “Forest Fairies Dancing in Early Morning”Oil on canvas, 97×125.5cm, 1932Mr. Huang Yongyu recalled memories of his teacher Guo Yinglin in the article “The Days in Jimei”: “My first art teacher in Jimei School was Guo Yinglin. He was a real and formal graduate from École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris (some people were not). He was good at both figure and landscape oil painting. I revered him because I didn’t know oil painting and most of the foreign painters he mentioned. He went to Paris after graduating from Jimei School. His voice was burry and nasal, mixed with a foreign flavor, and he dressed smartly. I felt very proud of following him to the gallery, through the oil curry trees and acacia trees.Guo Yinglin, copied “Playing Piano”, Oil on canvas, 147.5x114.5cm, 1932In the hallway hang the large and gold-framed paintings he had copied in Paris, in which there is a painting depicting an old man teaching a beautiful girl to play the piano. This picture is very touching as if the girl in the painting was Mr. Guo Yinglin’s own daughter, and she is afraid of making Mr. Guo get angry, so she secretly takes more glances. Mr. Guo went to Indonesia later. “The painting of a girl playing piano” described by Mr. Huang refers to the work “Playing Piano” in this exhibition. It is an oil painting that Guo Yinglin copied in France, and the original author is unknown. However, from the painting style, it should belong to classical academia school. According to the materials provided by Guo Yinglin’s descendants and relevant historical documents, Guo Yinglin was born in Bondowoso, East Java province, Indonesia on September 27, 1898. When he was six years old, he came back to China with his father. He first studied in a private school in his hometown Haicheng town (now Zhangzhou, Fujian province), and then followed his uncle Guo Meicheng to study in Jimei Normal School.Guo Yinglin (courtesy of Lin Mingjie)Later, he transferred from Jimei Middle School to Nanjing National Jinan School for further study in the Teacher Education Department. After graduation, he went to the Philippines to teach at the Anglo-Chinese School and spent his spare time to learn painting in the art class at the University of the Philippines. He was fond of sports, swimming, and track and field events. In 1922, he spent 3 hours with Gu Zhenglai to swim nearly 14 kilometers from Jimei School to Gulangyu Island, and he also participated in the triple jump competition in the Philippines. Guo Yinglin, Sketch in The Louvre, about 1932 (courtesy of Lin Mingjie)In 1927 (one said 1928), Guo Yinglin was funded by his friend to study in France. In early 1929, he applied for École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris (ENSBA) and was accepted to the Sculpture and Sketch class, where he learned charcoal painting during the day and studied at the Municipal Night School of Fine Arts at night. In April 1930, he failed in the formal examination for ENSBA and thus worked much harder (the examination was held once a year and had stringent admission requirements. No matter how many candidates joined the exam, it would only enroll the first 15 students, and the students ranked from 16th to 60th place were in line for the official students within the one-year period). The next year, he was finally elected as a permanent student of the school.In June 1931, Guo Yinglin took part in the charcoal painting competition of the school and unexpectedly won fifth place. This was the first Chinese student who gained the prize in the history of ENSBA. Chang Shuhong also said that Guo was the best student then.Portrait photo of Guo Yinglin during his stay in France (courtesy of Lin Mingjie)Guo Yinglin completed his studies in France while working part-time. In July 1932, he finished his studies at ENSBA and left the school. In January of the following year, he went back to China after the farewell party held for him by his classmates in France. At the same time, he became one of the founding members of the notable Association of Chinese Artists in France. On March 18 of the same year, Guo Yinglin was employed by Jimei School as the director of the school art museum and also served as the teacher of the Western painting in Xiamen Art School. His students included famous Taiwanese painter Zhuang Suo and Huang Yongyu.The wedding picture of Guo Yinglin and Lin Cuijin taken at Zhongshan Park in XiamenIn 1934, Guo Yinglin married Lin Cuijin, a celebrity lady born in Gulangyu. Ms. Lin Cuijin was born in 1904 in Ilang, Philippines and studied in Jimei Normal School. Three of her female cousins were married to Chen Jiageng’s three sons and became sisters-in-law, which was a story passed on with approval and also doomed that Guo Yinglin & Lin Cuijin couple had an indissoluble bond with Chen Jiageng in a lifetime.In July, the Anti-Japanese War broke out, and in order to escape from the war, Guo Yinglin went to Nanyang and became an art teacher of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts was founded by Lin Xueda (1895-1963), one of the founding members of Xiamen Art School, with the support of Chen Juexiang (son of Chen Jiageng) and the alumni association, opening the prologue of local arts education in Nanyang. Among the faculty members were Lin Xueda (principal), Qiu Yingkui, Guo Yinglin, Zhong Mingshi, Xie Touba, and so on. Xie Touba once said, “Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts is the overseas extension of Xiamen Art School.” The establishment of this art school is regarded as a typical example of Chinese modern art education system extending to overseas Chinese.On December 8, 1941, after the downfall of Singapore, Guo Yinglin followed Guo Meichen to take refuge in Surabaya, Indonesia. He first taught in an overseas Chinese primary school and after a year, opened a gift shop with his friend. In 1942, Chen Jiageng escaped to Indonesia for shelter. In order to cover for Chen Jiageng, Guo Yinglin suspended the business of the gift shop and moved to Solo in central Java with family to rent a house for a while, and later moved into Malang in East Java. Guo Yinglin registered Chen Jiageng, under the name of “Li Wenxue”, in the residence booklet of his gift shop opened in Surabaya. In this way, Chen Jiageng became a legal resident who had moved to Java before the war and lived in Surabaya for five years and obtained the identity card. It was also an important reason why Mr. Chen Jiageng could get rid of the rounding up of the Japanese. During the three years, Guo Yinglin managed local product business and then opened a toothbrush factory, and as such, he gave up drawing completely. Japan surrendered in 1945, and at the end of September, Guo Yinglin accompanied Chen Jiageng to go to Jakarta by train. Before leaving Malang, Chen Jiageng gave ten copies of The Memoirs of an Overseas Chinese of the Southern Ocean transcribed by him to the Guo Yinglin couple for preservation. In the 1980s, Ms. Lin Cuijin entrusted her children to donate the manuscripts to the state in twice, which are now collected by the Cheng Jiageng Memorial Hall in Jimei, becoming the treasure of the museum.In the 1950s, Guo Yinglin’s children gradually grew up and could help manage the business. So, he didn’t have to rush about for life and started to pick up the paintbrush again.Nanyang Siang Pau, reported on page 6 of February 24, 1933In October 1956, an exhibition of works by the Indonesian overseas Chinese art group, comprising works of ten members from the Indonesia Overseas Chinese Art Association, was held in Beijing. It was the first exhibition held by overseas Chinese art group in China since 1949. Guo Yinglin, deputy head of the delegation, visited China and participated in the exhibition with many of his works. There he also met Huang Yongyu, his student decades ago. After the exhibition, he traveled all around the country and returned to his hometown, Gulangyu in Xiamen, and created a batch of paintings. After back to Indonesia, he had lived a stable life for several years, which could be regarded as the most pleasant time for him. On October 19, 1961, he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 63.Before his death, Guo Yinglin told his wife Lin Cuijin to send his large copied paintings made in France, such as “Teaching Piano” and “Horses”, to the Embassy of Indonesia for transferring them to the Beijing Museum. Unfortunately, however, these paintings disappeared and never to be heard again in spite of many searches. On October 31, 2018, with multiple efforts of Mr. Wang Cong in Indonesia, Mr. Zhou Bin, the cultural counselor of the Chinese embassy in Indonesia, Mr. Wang Zhixian, the second secretary of the Embassy of China in Indonesia, artist Mr. Ma Yongqiang, Guo Yinglin’s student Mr. Cao Dali, and Guo Yinglin’s descendants, it was finally confirmed that three pieces of his works were donated to the CAFA after his death. This news was verified by Li Yaochen, the director of the Collection Department of CAFA Art Museum. So far, after the search for Guo Yinglin’s final works for a half-century, a satisfactory result was finally achieved.On entering the exhibition hall of “Pioneering: Chinese Artists Abroad in France and Chinese Modern Art” Exhibition at CAFA Art Museum, we can see the three works displayed side by side: “The Gleaners”, “Playing Piano” and “Forest Fairies Dancing in Early Morning”. In the face of these works, we cannot help but sign that, as an early artist studying in France, Guo Yinglin should not be forgotten by art history. His experience and works should be recorded and passed on, and the artistic spirit of previous artists should be inherited more than ever.Author/Dong SongExhibition InformationDate: January 12 – March 3, 2019Venue: CAFA Art Museum Exhibition Tour InformationLong Museum (Shanghai) March 15 – June 9, 2019Long Museum (Chongqing) June 21 – September 1, 2019CAFA Art Museum · Qingdao Branch September 15 – October 25, 2019 ...More

An important Art Master of the 20th Century that History Forgot – “Restoring” Xie Touba...

2019-01-26 742 people interested

Throughout history, China in the 20th century was undoubtedly amid a great transformation, facing new crisis and transition, and art, as a particular product of social ideology, was bound to seek for new vitality. It was in such a background that a generation of artists studying in France hoped to enter a larger international art stage to complete their self-construction. ...More
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