01 Poster of Sculpting China CAFA Sculpture Retrospective Exhibition 1918-2012

Sponsored by the Central Academy of Fine Arts( abbreviated to CAFA) together with Beijing CAFA Art Investments Limited, “Sculpting China: CAFA Sculpture Retrospective Exhibition 1918-2012” is co-organized by the Sculpture Department of CAFA, CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute, Art Center of CAFA opening September 1st at CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute, Yuhuili No.3, Chaoyang District, Beijing.

Following the introduction of the term “sculpture” into China at the end of 19th century, modern Chinese sculpture has developed from a general knowledge of sculpture.

“Sculptors” who have studied abroad and returned to China began their modern creations of sculptures after the 1920s and thus initiated modern Chinese sculpture from a practical point of view to an extension in sculpture that we see today.

What’s the value and significance of sculpture to “China” during the last century in the development of sculpture in China?

The emergence of celebrity portraits and even monumental sculptures during the period of the Republic of China has endowed sculptures with the function of shaping urban spaces and the building of public cultural space. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, The Monument to the People’s Heroes and The Top Ten Public Sculpture of the Capital have played an important role in the process of constructing “new China”. Group sculptures like Fury of Peasants, Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War Memorial Sculpture have been involved in the improvement of the concepts of “Class”, “Nationality” and others. After the reform and opening-up, exchanges on art between China and foreign countries have been accelerated while art trends emphasizing personality are on the up. Relying on individual explorations to promote the development of sculpture itself, sculptors have actively participated in the process of urbanization, carrying forward the close relationship among sculpture, reality and history.

During the development of the past century, professors and students from the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (and its predecessor National Beijing Art College) are not only witnesses to the scene but also practitioners, advocates and leaders of “Sculpting China”. They have bequeathed a great legacy of classic works, valuable drafts, photographs and documents which make an irreplaceable contribution to the generation and development of modern Chinese sculpture in the 20th century.

With the strong support of CAFA Art Center, Sculpture Department, CAFA and CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute they manage to bring together over 400 pieces of representative works from outstanding sculptors from the establishment of the Sculpture Department, CAFA. It is a sculpture retrospective exhibition which collects a number of exhibits concentrating on the most impressive works with the highest artistic level from the founding of Sculpture Department. Not only does it feature representative works by renowned sculptors in the history of Chinese sculpture, but it also reviews the history of sculpture education and the creation at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

“Sculpting China: CAFA Sculpture Retrospective Exhibition 1918-2012” traces back to the history of the Sculpture Department at CAFA and takes it as an opportunity to stimulate research on a century of Chinese sculpture among the academia, promote the dissemination and collection of sculptures, thus providing a professional, comprehensive platform for the public to comprehend contemporary Chinese sculptures as well as the education and creation at the Sculpture Department, CAFA.

It consists of “Historical and Classical”, “Heritage and Gradual Change”, “Expansion and Transition” and a document exhibit.

History and Classic

In the 20th century, the performance objects of Chinese modern sculpture changed from “Gods” to “Human Beings” which were later interwoven with “the People”, “leader” and other concepts, forming the main body of Chinese modern sculpture before the reform and opening-up. In terms of style, it has drawn from the sculptural styles of European Realism and Soviet Social Realism with a combination of traditional Chinese sculpture. In the explorations through more than half a century, generations of sculptors from CAFA have created so many classic works which have played an important role in shaping Chinese modern history, becoming the indispensable “core words” when we read this period of historical literature.

Heritage and Gradual Change

Since the reform and opening-up, the new generation of sculptors at the Central Academy of Fine Arts has injected more and more personalized factors into the scope of sculpture. On the basis of exploring in depth and cultivating a variety of unique “genes” of sculpture, they have made a breakthrough in style, material and concept and removed the potential obstacles set by simplified narrative. They gradually change on the base of heritage, making sculpture more fit for the diversified social trends.

Expansion and Transition

In view of “body”, the core concept of sculpture, consideration of the factors of cultural space, indulgence in “time” factor and in-depth exploration into many other factors have largely contributed to the contemporary expansion and transition of sculpture. Based on the creative accumulation of generations of sculptors, sculptors from CAFA have been actively challengeing the frontier of “sculpture” and enriched its connotation. Among the contemporary art practices based on “No Innovations without Breaking the Conventions”, they build a remarkable visual landscape with their diverse creations in the domain of contemporary art.

Documents Exhibit

In addition to exhibiting outstanding sculptures, this exhibition will display the most precious manuscripts, photographs and other historical documents of the Sculpture Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts and CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute.

Further, a series of academic lectures and seminars will be held at CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute along with this exhibition.

About the exhibition

Curators: Yin Shuangxi and  Liu Libin

Duration: September-December, 2012

Venue: CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute

Sponsors: Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing CAFA Art Investments Limited

Organizers: Sculpture Department of CAFA, CAFA Sculpture Creation Research Institute, Art Center of CAFA

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