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Beggars, Black Bears, and Butterflies: The Scientific Gaze and Ink Painting in Modern China

Beggars, Black Bears, and Butterflies: The Scientific Gaze and Ink Painting in Modern China <p>The ink brushes of the painters Chen Shizeng (1876–1923), Liu Kuiling (1885–1967), and Gao Jianfu (1879–1951) were employed as tools of the nation in early twentieth-century China. Yet the expression of a radical idealism about the new republic in their ink paintings was tempered early on by a tentative and self-conscious exploration of new ways of seeing. By synthesizing a “universal” scientific gaze with their idiosyncratically trained vision as artists, they created pictures that encouraged their viewers to cross the boundaries and binaries that would come to define the discourse about <i>guohua</i>, or “national painting”: East versus West, oil versus ink, modernity versus tradition, painting versus graphic arts, and elite versus folk. This article explores that extended moment of synthesis and experimentation. It argues that it was through the scientific gaze of these brush-and-ink artists that idealism and learning came to cooperate, and through their paintings that possibilities for news ways of seeing the nation emerged.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review University of Hawai'I Press

Beggars, Black Bears, and Butterflies: The Scientific Gaze and Ink Painting in Modern China

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University
ISSN
2158-9666
eISSN
2158-9674

Abstract

<p>The ink brushes of the painters Chen Shizeng (1876–1923), Liu Kuiling (1885–1967), and Gao Jianfu (1879–1951) were employed as tools of the nation in early twentieth-century China. Yet the expression of a radical idealism about the new republic in their ink paintings was tempered early on by a tentative and self-conscious exploration of new ways of seeing. By synthesizing a “universal” scientific gaze with their idiosyncratically trained vision as artists, they created pictures that encouraged their viewers to cross the boundaries and binaries that would come to define the discourse about <i>guohua</i>, or “national painting”: East versus West, oil versus ink, modernity versus tradition, painting versus graphic arts, and elite versus folk. This article explores that extended moment of synthesis and experimentation. It argues that it was through the scientific gaze of these brush-and-ink artists that idealism and learning came to cooperate, and through their paintings that possibilities for news ways of seeing the nation emerged.</p>

Journal

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture ReviewUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jul 20, 2015

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