November 27, 2012 at 2:00pm, the press conference and opening ceremony of “CAFA Art Museum Collection Series: Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of the National Beiping Art School” was inaugurated at the auditorium of CAFA Art Museum. It is sponsored by the Central Academy of Fine Arts and organized by the CAFA Art Museum. Curated by Prof. Wang Huangsheng, it invited Pan Gongkai, President of CAFA as the academic adviser and Associate Professor Cao Qinghui as the academic host.
The press conference was chaired by Wang Huangsheng, Director of CAFA Art Museum, honored guests including Gao Hong, Party Secretary of CAFA, renowned artist Prof. Dai Ze who worked as the lecturer of Beiping Art School, Prof. Xu Bing who serves as Vice-President of CAFA, An Yuanyuan, Chief of Art Department, Ministry of Culture, Associate Professor Cao Qinghui were present.
CAFA Art Museum Collection Series: Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of the National Beiping Art School will be on view at the gallery on the fourth floor of CAFA Art Museum from November 27, 2012 through to April 25, 2013. Being a boutique collection exhibition grandly introduced by CAFA Art Museum, it has been chosen as “2012 National Exhibition Season of Brilliant Collection Works from Art Museums in China Organized by the Ministry of Culture”. Meanwhile in order to meet the needs of celebrating Centennial Celebrations of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2018, it can be claimed to be one of the most important projects in its start-up phrase.
The exhibition highlights nearly 40 pieces of the boutique collection of CAFA Art Museum together with lots of precious historical documents. Spanning three decades, it brings together the classic works by renowned artists who had taught or studied at the National Beiping Art School from its establishment in 1918 through to the foundation of CAFA in 1950. It is more than an important retrospective demonstration of the education and outlook of oil painting in the National Beiping Art School, which is of significance for us in order to sort out and comprehend modern oil painting in China as well as its educational development. It will continue to exhibit for over five months.
China Central Academy of Fine Arts or CAFA is the only advanced academy of Chinese fine arts under the direct charge of the Department of Education in China. It was founded in April, 1950, as a result of a merger between the National Art School in Beiping and the department of fine arts at the third campus of North China University. Mao Zedong wrote the school name. The history of the “National Art School in Beiping” might date back to the founding of the “National School of Fine Arts in Beijing” in 1918, advocated by the notable educator, Cai Yuanpei. It was the first national school of fine arts in Chinese history, and also the beginning of Chinese modern education of fine arts. The former principals of CAFA include Xu Beihong, Jiang Feng, Wu Zuoren, Gu Yuan and Jin Shangyi. Academic research into the National Beiping Art School has not been systematic which did not provide a complete and clear visage for academic circles. During the process of reorganizing its collections, CAFA Art Museum took care in the research and conservation of the works by each faculty and students during the period of the National Beiping Art School and based on which it has put forward the “Selected Display of the National Beiping Art School Collected by CAFA Art Museum”. It expects to present the historical outlook of the art school through gradual organization and clearance and provide first-hand information for future academic study.
This exhibition is the first part of the “Selected Display of National Beiping Art School Collected by CAFA Art Museum” focusing on oil paintings including those of Wu Fading, Li Yishi, Xu Beihong, Wu Zuoren who had made great contributions to Chinese art history, many of which will be the first time to exhibit domestically in recent years. From a unique perspective, the exhibits on display are so precious and significant that many of them are representative works of the artists which have a tremendous impact on the history of Chinese fine arts such as “Trackers” by Wu Zuoren which was created during his study in Belgium, “Skating on the North Sea” by Xiao Shufang, “Dances by Mongolian and Tibetan Women” by Sun Zongwei, “Catching Lice” by Feng Fasi during the Anti-Japanese War, “Make a Pillow of One ‘s Spear Waiting for Daybreak”, “The Unmelted Snow of the Forbidden City”, “Offering Fuel in Snowy Weather” by Ai Zhongixn, “Civilians’ Canteen” by Li Zongjin, “Market at Dong Dan” by Qi Zhenqi, “Meeting of a Peasants’ Group” by Dai Ze and so on.
Also, the works on display can be described as rarely seen. Xu Beihong’s “Sketch of the Positive Side of the Male Body” was one of her assignments in the classroom during her study in France which meant a lot to the research on the learning and teaching of oil painting by Xu Beihong. Some artists have few works surviving nowadays such as “Figure of a Woman in Manchu Clothes” by Wu Fading, the first Chinese artist who had been to France to study fine art, who later served as the Professor and Dean of Oil Painting Department at Beijing Art School, “Portrait of Chen Shizeng” and “Portrait of Wang Mengbai” by LI Yishi, the first Chinese artist who had studied in UK, who later acted as the Professor and Director of the Oil Painting Department at Beijing Art School; “Market of Dong Dan”, “Suburbanite” “Playground of Dong Dan” by Qi Zhensi who had been highly recommended by Xu Beihong, which are all his representative works which rarely survive but provide precious material for the research on art history. “Make a Pillow of One ‘s Spear Waiting for Daybreak” is an important work of Ai Zhongxin created during the Anti-Japanese War which he thought had been destroyed but it was rediscovered and had been preserved in a warehouse. Additionally, there are exercise works for the classroom by two students studying at the National Beiping Art School which will offer a significant reference for researchers to know the art education of that time.
This boutique exhibition on display at CAFA Art Museum can be taken as a report on its historical work as it presents the achievements that the museum made during the reconfirmation, rescue and maintenance of the art works as the Director of CAFA Art Museum, Wang Huangsheng stated in the preface for this exhibition, “on the one hand it intends to reveal our endeavor and achievements in the collections of the National Beiping Art School; on the other hand, it presents in an honest way the collection of all these works for society and academic circles, especially, recalling academic attention to the existing historical gap in this regard including the omissions of important works and related information by significant artists. Moreover, Wang took this opportunity to urge all walks of life especially artists and their families and collectors to provide support for the collecting project of the “National Beiping Art School”.