The centurial celebration of the Central Academy of Fine Arts has undergone developments in aesthetic education over a century. One year after President Xi Jinping replied to the letter from senior professors of CAFA, the academy presents the exhibition of “The Art of Grand Beauty: The Central Academy of Fine Arts’ Influence on Art Creation and Education”. For the first time, CAFA has organized the art achievements of CAFA over the last century from the perspective of aesthetic education, and manifests the rich meaning and value of “Art of Grand Beauty”.
Chinese society underwent a grand development during the last century. It is at this time that CAFA teachers and students carried the cultural mission of the people on their shoulders, responded to the society’s aesthetic expectations, created a great number of outstanding artworks that show the Chinese people’s yearning for things of beauty, a life of beauty and state of beauty, and this was manifested in the positive influence on society and art education. Many works have now become modern Chinese classic art, collected by museums and galleries, exhibited in the public space, and are playing a positive role in building social and cultural atmospheres thus meeting people’s cultural needs and raising the public’s aesthetic level.
This exhibition looks back on CAFA’s creation in the past hundred years, accumulates a large number of classic works by CAFA teachers and students, and for the first time categorizes and organizes CAFA’s classic art practice and influence on art education. The exhibition is divided into six sections: The Beauty of Cultural Enlightenment; The Beauty of Righteous Resistance; The Beauty of the Orient; The Beauty of Labor; The Beauty of Nature and The Beauty of the New Era. It shows the “Art of Grand Beauty” created by CAFAM in multiple dimensions. Meanwhile, there is also a large format catalogue in the same name being published.
The First Section: The Beauty of Cultural Enlightenment reviews the ideal of aesthetic education in the early stage of Chinese modern art education. In the context of the May Fourth New Culture Movement, modern art education has a distinct sense from the very beginning, especially the ideal of cultural enlightenment that permeates art creations.
The Second Section: The Beauty of Righteous Resistances showcases the magnificent chapters that Chinese fought against aggression, striving for national independence and liberation.
The Third Section: The Beauty of the Orient includes classics works from the early days since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Reflecting the changes over time, shaping the images of the country have become the conscious responsibility of faculty and students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, they have created a large number of works featured by public aesthetic value, which exerts the most extensive role of aesthetic education.
The Fourth Section: The Beauty of Labor presents many classic masterpieces featuring the working people under the guiding principle that fine arts serve the people in the People’s Republic of China.
The Fifth Section: The Beauty of Nature reflects artists’ love for natural beauty and life. After 1949, the faculty and students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts have insisted on endowing the natural heaven and earth with the symbolic meaning of the epoch in their creations.
The Sixth Section: The Beauty of the New Era shows the artistic achievements by the Central Academy of Fine Arts since the reform and opening up, especially in the new era. The Central Academy of Fine Arts adheres to the promotion of fine arts traditions, advocates of art exploration and innovation, thus provides abundant new resources for social art education which has greatly expanded the dimension of social aesthetics in the new era.
By Fan Di’an, President of CAFA
At the 100th anniversary of Central Academy of Fine Arts, President Xi Jinping replied to the letter of CAFA’s senior professors. In the letter, he spoke highly of the devotion of the older generation of art masters and educators in art creation and education, he pointed out that art education is an important component of aesthetic education, raised the idea that we should further strengthen the aesthetic educational spirit, and indicated the direction for art education in the new era.
The road of CAFA in the past century, as well as the road of Chinese art education and creation, is also a century-old road of aesthetic education. In the radically changing 20th century Chinese society, the ideal of beauty, creation of beauty, dissemination of beauty and acceptance of beauty always carry the cultural mission of Chinese artists and aesthetic expectations of the people, embodies Chinese people’s yearning for things of beauty, life of beauty and state of beauty, and becomes the representation of the artworks’ social function and artistic value.
In 1918, the founding of the former CAFA—the National Beiping Art College—marks the birth of modern art education, and brewed the environment to create aesthetic education and its promotion; in 1938 the Lu Xun Academy in Yan’an was founded. The revolutionary art opened a new route for art that serves the people, which led to the further development of aesthetic education. From that time to today, CAFA has seen a great number of art masters, who have created plenty of excellent artworks. Generations of teachers and students’ art creations not only have pushed Chinese art forward in the past century, but also provided nourishment for the mind for society, and played an important role in influencing and encouraging people.
The Reform and Opening-up has opened a new bridge that connects Chinese art to the world. As CAFA is a significant platform for the exchange of Chinese and international art, its teachers and students have always had a broad horizon and dynamic ideas. They stand in the forefront of the academic world while adhering to rational research, carrying on promoting the excellent Chinese cultural tradition and spirit of Chinese aesthetic education, positively exploring new art languages and new aesthetic space, and showing creative vigor in the fine art academy with new creative concepts and methods.
As the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has now entered a new era, the development of society is expecting more of aesthetics. CAFA has taken the opportunity to adjust its majors, form new disciplinary structure, make the four disciplines in plastic arts, design, architecture and humanities mutually complementary, and brings their advantage into full play in terms of serving the development of the economy and society. From the creation of works with grand themes, to the representation of lives of the times, from urban design to architecture design, from visual communication design to public product design, from the study of aesthetic history to the construction of art theories, there are constantly new achievements, as well as new contributions in the dissemination of beautiful art.
In the past century, many works created by CAFA teachers and students, especially the grand masters, have become the classic art of modern China, collected by museums and galleries, exhibited in the public space, and play a positive role in building a social and cultural atmosphere, meeting people’s cultural needs and raising the public’s aesthetic level. It has been proved that only in people’s appreciation that an excellent artwork could last.
Looking back on art practice’s social benefits and cultural value from the perspective of aesthetic education, we stand even more firmly with the direction of Chinese art and art education in the new era. Like what President Xi said in his reply: We should carry forward the good tradition of loving the country and serving the people, upholding virtue and appreciating art, to educate the students with a heart of big love, and create works with the art of grand beauty, to keep in step with the times, to focus on the people, to serve the people with great works, to lead the trend with enlightened ideas and moral deeds, and to make new contribution to the development of aesthetic education in China with the cultivation of art talent and the creation of art.
Courtesy of CAFA Art Museum, Edited by Sue and Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO