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Shanghai Museum Table of Contents

The Shanghai Museum Holds an Exhibition and Symposium on Its Treasures of Painting and Calligraphy

Xue Yongnian
China Central Academy of Fine Arts

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, every major museum in China (such as the Palace Museum, the Liaoning Provincial Museum, the Nanjing Museum and the Tianjin Art Museum) held special painting and calligraphy exhibitions. In the southern half of China, the Shanghai Museum not only selected well- known paintings and calligraphy from past dynasties to present its "Exhibition of Treasures of Painting and Calligraphy," but also invited scholars from Beijing, Tianjin, Liaoning, and Shanghai to present a "Symposium on Treasures of Painting and Calligraphy." Because of the ingenuity of this symposium, its influence in the field was far-reaching.

The exhibition displayed fifty famous works of calligraphy, starting with the Eastern Jin (317-420) calligrapher Wang Xianzhi's Duck Head Pill . . . , and ending with the hanging scroll Golden Pheasant, Bamboo, and Chrysanthemum by Hua Yan (1682-1756). Also among the works exhibited were the handscroll Bitter Bamboo Shoots by the Tang calligrapher Huaisu, 725-785), the handscroll Refined Leisure by Sun Wei of the Tang (618-907), the handscroll in Cha huang ji dao in Regular Script by Su Shi (1036-1101) of the Song; Snow and Bamboo by an anonymous painter of the Song dynasty (960-1279); and the handscroll Living in Seclusion in the Qingbian Mountains by Wang Meng (ca. 1308-1385) of the Yuan. Furthermore, the exhibition contained the infrequently exhibited works Poem on the Pavilion of Many Views in Running Script by the Song painter Mi Fu (1051-1151); the handscroll Fishermen by Wu Zhen (1280-1354) of the Yuan; and the handscroll Pine and Cypress in Spring by the early Qing artist Zhu Da (Bada Shanren, 1626-1705).

Experts attending the symposium included Zhu Jiajin, Yang Xin, and Shan Guoqiang of the Palace Museum in Beijing; Jin Weinuo and Xue Yongnian of the China Central Institute of Fine Arts; Feng Qiyong of the Chinese Academy of Arts; Cui Jin of the Tianjin Art Museum; Lin Shuzhong and Zhou Jiyin of the Nanjing Art Institute; Zheng Qi of the Nanjing Museum; Shao Luoyang, Chen Peiqiu, Xu Jianrong, Lu Pusheng, Li Weikun, Huang Ke, and Wang Kewen from Shanghai; and Zheng Wei of the Shanghai Museum. The symposium was led by Chen Xiejun, newly appointed Vice-Director for museum affairs, and the museum Vice-Director Wang Qingzheng, in cooperation with Shan Guolin, Director of the Department of Painting and Calligraphy. They emphasized that the Shanghai Museum, established as an art museum, hoped to adopt an open attitude towards developing a tradition of nurturing excellent art in the context of the close relationship between academics and artists. At the same time, these experts and scholars admired, appraised, and deliberated on the treasures while meandering through the exhibition.

New and insightful views were expressed on such topics as: the value and direction acquisition of painting and calligraphy by the Shanghai Museum; the importance of authentication in art historical research; the similarities and differences between court paintings of the Song and Ming dynasties; elements of freer brushwork in traditional realistic paintings; issues surrounding brush-and-ink paintings; and the complete repair and restoration of objects in the collection. By incorporating into the discussion two current artistic discourses regarding the value of brush-and-ink -- "Brush-and-ink [painting] amounts to nothing" and "Abide by and advocate the bottom line of Chinese painting" -- the debate became quite heated. Apparently, this symposium facilitated the opening of yet another symposium on paintings and calligraphy at the Palace Museum on 27 October, to which scholars from China and abroad were invited.

See also Xue Yongnian's state-of the field summary in "Scholarship of the History of Ancient Painting in the 1990s."



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China Central Institute of Fine Arts

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On the State of the Field
Scholarship in the History of Ancient Painting in the 1990s

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New Discoveries of Calligraphy and Painting from the Palace Museum's "List of Lost Works"
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Zhang Xian's Ten Odes: Counterpoint

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Select Bibliography on Chinese Painting

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"Treasures of Painting and Calligraphy Acquired by the Palace Museum over the Last 50 Years"
by Fu Dongguang

Palace Museum Exhibition
"Grand Exhibition of Cultural Relics Collected over the Last 50 Years"

Palace Museum Symposium
Academic Symposium Accompanying the
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by Wang Qi

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The Shanghai Museum Holds A Symposium on Its Exhibition of Masterpieces
by Xue Yongnian

Liaoning Provincial Museum
An Assembly of Masterpieces, Presented in Radiant Splendor: Record of the "Exhibition of Treasures from the Ten Great Archaeological Discoveries in Liaoning"
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Extracts from China Archaeology and Art Digest 3:2/3 (January 2000): Painting and Pictorial Arts
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Yu Hui on Yuan court artists

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"The Efflorescence of a Prosperous Age: Fine Works of Qing Dynasty Painting and Objects of the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong Reigns in the Collection of the Palace Museum"

National Gallery, Washington, DC

"The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology: Celebrated Discoveries from the People's Republic of China"
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The Qingming shanghe Scroll and Qingming shanghe Studies
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On Qingming shanghe Studies
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Chai Zejun: Collected Works on Ancient Architecture

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Back Issues

Volume 1, Issue 1
(October 1999)

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