Artist Xu Beihong and His Family in Mao's China
The most influential Chinese artist and art educator in twentieth-century China, Xu Beihong (1895-1953) is widely known as the father of modern Chinese painting. Born into a poor family in 1895 in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, he learned Chinese classics and traditional Chinese painting from his father, a self-taught artist.
Xu gained a government scholarship to study in France and attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts. Between 1919 and 1927, he studied sketching and oil painting in France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland. Returning to China in 1927, he successfully integrated Western painting methods and techniques with traditional Chinese painting in order to develop Chinese painting.
The human feelings and Chinese esthetics in his art have moved the hearts of many viewers throughout Asia, Europe, and recently in the United States. At present, Xu's artistic practice and advocacy remain an example of how to retain the best traditions of Chinese culture while integrating useful elements of other cultures.
Xu also pioneered China's art education. He was the first Chinese artist to systematically incorporate high-standard Western sketching from life and oil painting into the curricula at China’s major art institutions. From 1927 until his death in 1953, Xu trained several generations of students.
Speaker Xu Fangfang, Xu Beihong’s daughter, will introduce her memoir Galloping Horses: Artist Xu Beihong and His Family in Mao’s China, which describes how Xu's family and legacy survived the turbulence of the mid-20th century in China, including the devastating ten-year Cultural Revolution. This book offers untold experiences of Xu during Mao's era.
The presentation will include high-quality images of Xu Beihong’s masterpieces. If you bring your copy of Galloping Horses, the author will gladly sign following the lecture.
Born and raised in China, Xu Fangfang moved to the US in 1981 and earned a BA in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from Stanford University. In 2000, she became the founding director of the music department at Renmin University of China. She helped initiate and facilitate the first comprehensive solo US exhibition of her father Xu Beihong’s work, presented by the Denver Art Museum, October 2011–January 2012. She has published several articles on Xu Beihong and his art, including “Xu Beihong, Pioneer of Modern Chinese Painting” in Arts of Asia 42, no. 1 (2012), and “Xu Beihong’s Life and Art” in Xu Beihong: Pioneer of Modern Chinese Painting, Denver Art Museum, 2011.
Learn more here: BeihongChinaArts.com
Image: Xu Beihong (left) and children Qingping and Fangfang at 16 East Shoulu Street, Beijing, 1949. Paper strips on the windows helped prevent the panes from shattering when the People’s Liberation Army besieged the city. Courtesy of Xu Fangfang.
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