Planned by Wang Huangsheng, Director of CAFA Art Museum, “Long Live the Youth: ‘The Nonage of Fine Arts in New China’ Special Exhibition from the CAFAM’s Collection” will be held in the National Art Museum of China on January 18, and will be on view until February 26, 2013, as one of the special exhibitions of “An Artistic Treasures’ Assembly – Top 10 National Art Museums’ Collections”, it will feature 50 pieces of representative works of young artists from CAFA from the founding of People’s Republic of China to the 1990s with a selection of CAFAM collection of outstanding works by previous students. They are Jin Shangyi, Zhan Jianjun, Hou Yimin, Gao Hong, Ai Zhongxin, Yuan Yunsheng, Zhu Naizheng, Wang Wenbin, Wen Lipeng, Deng Shu, Lin Gang, Fan Zeng, Zhou Sicong, Chen Danqing, Sun Jingbo, Yang Feiyun, Wang Yidong, Liu Dawei, Guang Jun, Wu Changjiang, Tan Ping, Sun Weimin, Yu Hong, Wang Yuping, Cao Li, Shen Ling, Liu Xiaodong, Tian Liming, Xu Bing, Su Xinping, Wang Huaxiang, Fang Lijun, etc, most of them are representative figures in art circles and the Chinese art educational field.
By PAN Gongkai, President of China Central Academy of Fine Arts
New China art plays a significant role in the history of modern and contemporary Chinese art development. In a sense, it has initiated a brand new chapter of art development.
In the new era, fine art as a subject at the first place was allowed to develop in a scientific manner while a series of public fine art schools and academies were established, modern art educational system was launched and all disciplines and categories of fine art were progressed. China Central Academy of Fine Arts, as one of the most crucial art education institutions, certainly has been playing an irreplaceable role in the development of fine art in new China, which can be proved by the numerous excellent artists and their splendid masterpieces by one generation after another. Unexaggeratedly speaking, the majority of the artists who have founded the art history of new China are closely related to China Academy of Fine Arts by teaching there or being taught there. What should be noted by the art circle is that many of the artists spent their adolescent years in CAFA and mostly accomplished their key representative works in their artistic career or works brought their fame there. On one hand, it objectively justified CAFA’s humanistic tradition of cultivating “artist” but not “painter”; On the other hand, it sufficiently revealed CAFA’s great appeal and influence to artists, especially young artists, which led to generations of talented artists’ dedicating their youth to CAFA, and help them to set out for their lifelong artistic career!
Although acting as the representative and model of “academism,” CAFA never became conservative and close minded. On the contrary, it is always the holy land for the young artists with prospective artistic thinking and extraordinary creativity, where they were attached great important and encourage. The young artists’ achievement was confirmed and acknowledged by CAFA through collecting their excellent works for its permanent collection. Thus, many excellent artists’ works finished during their undergraduate or postgraduate years, especially their graduation works were collected by their Alma Mater. Through repeated practice year after year, we have established a good academic tradition with the characteristics of CAFA, and the extremely significant and special collection series.
The exhibition and its catalogue gather and summarize CAFA teachers’ works in their adolescent period, together with undergraduates’ and postgraduates’ graduation works from CAFA Art Museum Collection, which were finished in nearly half a century from the start of new China to the end of last century. To some extent, those works stand for indispensable part in the history of fine art development in new China. Our study on those classical works will not only push forward the research on CAFA Art Museum collections, but also establish art museum’s cultural image as a research institute but not only an exhibition facility.
December 25th, 2012
By WANG Huangsheng , Director of CAFA Art Museum
The contemporary Chinese fine art history researchers usually consider the year of 1949 as the start of “fine art in new China,” while have no consensus on its end. But as most scholars consider it as the turn of the century, the exhibition follows this idea of periodization. “Youth” here does not refer to the time concept in a human’s whole life, but stands for a vigorous state of a new-born thing’s development. To some extent, such a state is the artistic indicator of new China’s development history and spiritual experience.
China Central Academy of Fine Arts and the former National Beiping Art School have and had been carrying on the tradition of collecting young artists’ campus creations and graduation works. In nearly half a century from the foundation of new China to 1990s, the Academy has collected abundant works from numerous excellent campus creations and graduation works, many of them are significant and meaningful. Today we chose part of representative ones to form such an exhibition which took “youth” as its research and display subject.
In a sense, the collections reveal the track of CAFA’s fine art education and its achievements in almost half a century. It brought up excellent graduates one generation after another, such as the founders of professional fine art academies or backbone teachers across China, and even the artists significantly influenced major fine art movements in new China. Those outstanding artists mostly started their art life from CAFA and their representative works in youth were mostly collected by CAFA Art Museum. The most potential, creative young artists and their vigorous creations are emotionally eulogizing the everlasting theme — “Long Live the Youth”, and visually demonstrating the appearance of new China. Just as Marx said, “The spirit of an age is represented by the spirit of youth; and the character of a time is reflected by the character of youth.”
Therefore, the exhibition is divided into three sections on the basis of different time periods, namely they are:
I. New Age and New Youth (1950-1965)
II. Youth Memory and Self-awakening (1977-1984)
III. Youth Experiment and Self-establishment (1985-1990)
With the carefully selected collections, texts, pictures, documents and interviews filled in the memory of youth, the exhibition is trying to visually and vividly depicting the vigorous youth of fine art in new China, revealing the lively and energetic fine art history in the period, and arousing our once and ever sentiment about youth. Long Live the Youth!
December 23th, 2012
Introduction to the Three Sections:
I. New Age and New Youth (1950-1965)
The foundation of new China officially announced the end of the semi-feudal and semi-colonial history and society and created a brand new socialist era.
As China became a newly-built socialist country, art of socialism emerged in correspondence to the country’s new spirit. The model of socialist countries at that time was the former Soviet Union. Its mainstream art is the socialist realistic art. Therefore, through “introducing the Soviet Union art in and stepping out to learn in Soviet Union”, new China paved its fundamental orientation of new Chinese art, i.e. a combined art of revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism. The New Chinese New Year Painting movement, the introduction of oil painting from the socialist Soviet Union and the reform of Chinese painting were all guided by this orientation. In the special historical period of new China, realistic and romantic art celebrated the great change and people’s passion in construction, and focused on working scenes and expectation for a bright future.
Young people were unavoidably placed in a special life experience with soaring heroism. They adored and admired great and strong people, pursued after important events and history. Like their predecessors who presented their passion and dream through war, the young artists in the new age tended to express their regretless heroism complex and romanticism feeling through describing hard working, construction scene, wild land reclamation and history making.
II. Youth Memory and Self-awakening (1977-1984)
The ten-year catastrophe engraved physical torture and spiritual frustration on young people’s memory. After working in mountainous area and countryside and struggling against the society during the Culture Revolution, the “Culture Revolution Generation” has already dedicated half of their life to the past and would leave the rest half for future. This was their special living state at that time. All these led to their contemplation over reality and history. In a sense, such contemplation was an in-depth understanding of realism, which not only criticized and reconsidered the Culture Revolution, but also further deepened the reflection on history, culture and humanity.
The art style began to transit from realism to modernism. To some extent, the local realism, trauma art, Wyeth style and neo-classicism all symbolized the return of realism, not in style, but in criticism against reality and reflection of history. Although the art style adopted the painting skills of representing, the aim of representation was no longer history, but young artists’ view of history.
The contemplation over reality and history represents the mental process of self-enlightenment. In the art field, the said enlightenment was concentrated on the attitude towards modern western art and humanistic thinking, while emphasis on self-expression was almost an instinctive appeal of individual life after being enlightened from collective concept and memory. The appeal naturally could not be linked to the still spirit-stinging memory toward the near past. In the bitter memory of past, individual life experience was rapidly illuminated and longing for expression.
Such an expression and the pursuit after formal beauty can be considered as the young artists’ yearning for modernism after grown up in the Culture Revolution, and the demonstration of new value after the Culture Revolution was established on the basis of culture.
III. Youth Experiment and Self-Establishment (1985-1990)
Around 1985, the new generation stepped onto the historical stage of new art. Just as the art historian, Prof. Yi Ying said, “The year of 1985 unveiled the ’85 Movement, and the following 4 years witnessed the most exciting period in modern Chinese art history. The active thinking, the vigorous creation, the courageous criticism and the brilliant idealism jointly created the most splendid chapter of modern Chinese art history.”
Essentially, the ’85 Movement constitutes a part of ideological emancipation movement after the Culture Revolution and the Reform. But in a sense, the ’85 Movement emerged as a youth experiment in form, and such a form represented a process of rationalization and deepening of modernistic art practice. From this perspective, the ’85 Movement is rather a social experiment than an artistic experiment, since it mainly examines the society and the public’s response to artistic freedom and ideological emancipation through artistic creation.
From another perspective, the ’85 Movement initiated the re-establishment of self-identity. The young artists got to self-establish their identities with their intellectuals’ individuality, independence and seity. They were no longer art worker but artist, no longer social critic but independent intellectual; and their art was no longer pure self-monologue, but the narration of the relationship between oneself and the society.
About the exhibition
Exhibition Time: 2013/01/18—2013/02/27
Exhibition Venue: 1st Floor, National Art Museum of China
Opening Ceremony: 2013/01/18 15:30
Curator: Wang Huangsheng
Assistant Curator: Guo Hongmei
Courtesy of CAFA Art Museum, for further information please visit www.cafamuseum.org.