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A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth-Century China
Contributions by Julia F. Andrews, Christina Chu, Shan Guolin, Mayching Kao, Kuiyi Shen, Jonathan Spence, and Xue Yongnian
Published in 1998
336 pages, fully illustrated
English and Spanish editions
This catalogue accompanies the exhibition A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth-Century China, which was presented at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo (now closed) in 1998, and organized by scholars of modern Chinese art (Julia F. Andrews and Kuiya Shen). The exhibition was organized into four interconnected sections: Innovations in Chinese Painting, 1859–1950; The Modernist Generations, 1920–1950; Art for New China, 1950–1980; and Transformations of Tradition, 1980 to the Present. The essays trace the development of Chinese art throughout the turbulent decades of the twentieth-century, a period marked by great social upheavals and a struggle between modernity and tradition. The exhibition catalogue includes reproductions from traditional scroll paintings to literati paintings, woodcut prints, and social realist paintings of the Cultural Revolution.
Aficionados of China's fascinating history and its great cultural tradition may demand that contemporary Chinese artists–to be authentic–should paint only in the hallowed manners: scroll paintings in ink of a poet alone in a thatched cottage. This romantic view of China, though undeniably appealing, has no contemporary reality. A creative twentieth century painter in Beijing or Shanghai can no more express the ethos of the fourteenth century than could his American counterpart in New York or Los Angeles.