The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China

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Overview

Calligraphy is a defining feature of Chinese culture, both a means of communication and a revered form of art. It has changed more dramatically during the half century since Mao Zedong established the People's Republic in 1949 than over the preceding fifteen hundred years. At first the traditional art of calligraphy was transformed into an instrument of political power and protest, wielded on an unprecedented scale. Over the past three decades it has emerged as a more visually exciting modern genre, one that offers fascinating insights into the people of modern China.

For The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China, Gordon S. Barrass interviewed many prominent calligraphers. He focuses on twenty-five individuals who have been key figures in this process and who exemplify its main trends, from the grand tradition to the avant-garde. Lavishly illustrated, this sumptuous book charts the development of these calligraphers and makes their distinctive voices accessible to Western readers for the first time.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
To the Chinese, the art of calligraphy represents the epitome of culture-indeed, a scholar's "four treasures" are paper, brushes, insksticks, and inkstone. Although the dark days of China's Cultural Revolution (1966-76) were marked by suppression of the arts and free expression, calligraphy continued to flourish as a propaganda tool (Mao Zedong himself was a calligrapher and promoted its use to create the politically charged "big character posters"). In the decades since Mao's death, calligraphy has continued to evolve, but it is now an instrument of expression of the avant-garde. Barrass, who served in the British Embassy in Beijing in the early 1970s and travels frequently to China, here documents the work of 25 of the art form's most prominent and innovative practitioners. Along with interviews and photographs, the book presents beautifully reproduced examples of their work. Other features include a discussion of the influences that have shaped calligraphy over the last 50 years, Chinese transcriptions of the poetry interspersed throughout the book, and a bilingual bibliography. Although this book will be of primary importance to scholars of Chinese culture, it would also be a valuable addition to most art libraries.-Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520234512
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/7/2002
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 11.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon S. Barrass served in the British Embassy in Beijing from 1970 to 1972 and then at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, where he spent the next two years developing Sino-British cultural exchanges. He continued to be involved with Sino-British relations over the next twenty years. During the past decade he has made more than fifty visits to China, giving him the opportunity to continue his research and collecting of modern Chinese calligraphy.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 11
1 The Great Debate 15
2 The Changing World 41
3 The Grand Tradition: Shen Yinmo, Ye Gongchuo, Guo Moruo, Chen Yi, Deng Sanmu, Mao Zedong 66
4 Breaking the Mould: Zhang Zhengyu, Li Luogong 118
5 The Classicists: Sha Menghai, Lin Sanzhi, Qi Gong, Wang Shixiang 132
6 The Modernists: Wang Dongling, Huang Miaozi, Gu Gan 162
7 The Neo-Classicists: Zhang Sen, Liu Zengfu, Han Yu, Sa Benjie 194
8 The Avant-Garde: Zhang Dawo, Pu Lieping, Wei Ligang, Wang Nanming, Zhang Qiang 226
9 The Brushmarks of Friendship: Yang Xianyi 264
Illustration and photographic credits 274
Chinese transcriptions of calligraphy 277
Bibliography 280
Chinese bibliography 282
Index 284
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