00 - Stories of Artistic Growth: “The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA” has been officially published

It celebrates the centennial of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in 2018, attaching great importance to the review and research its history. CAFA rebuilt the History Museum through the continuous expansion and deepening of the historic materials. At the same time, CAFA ART INFO initiated a book project titled the “The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA”, inviting the artists, designers, filmmakers and art critics, who once studied in CAFA or the High School Affiliated to CAFA, to share stories of their time spent studying at the school, thus giving readers an opportunity to understand the existence of CAFA’s from the most direct and microscopic perspective. The book was recently published by the CITIC Publishing Group, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of CAFA.

On 18 April 2018, the book launch of “The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA” was hosted by CAFA ART INFO and CITIC Publishing Group at the VIP room of CAFA Art Museum. The book launch involved a gathering of many of the book’s authors to recall their stories of events at CAFA, and a discussion of the spirit and history of CAFA over the last one hundred years. Attendees included: President of CAFA, Fan Di’an; General Editor of CITIC Publishing Group, Hong Yonggang; Deputy Party Secretary of CAFA, Wang Shaojun; Director of the Academic Committee at CAFA, Xu Bing; Director of the Journal of CAFA, Yin Shuangxi; Director of CAFA Art Museum, Zhang Zikang; Editor-in-Chief of CAFA ART INFO, Zhang Yanzi; and the General Editor of the book.


The writing and publishing of “The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA” was spoken highly of by President of CAFA, Fan Di’an. He said that it was extremely important and necessary to study and review the school’s history. CAFA’s people and the stories of their growth constitute the most vivid and exciting history of CAFA. Therefore, we need both the macroscopic and microscopic narrations of the school’s history, everyone can contribute an emotional presentation of their perception of the school’s history. This book was the latest achievement in the history research of CAFA, involving the coherent gathering of people from across CAFA. General Editor of CITIC Publishing Group, Hong Yonggang, said that he was honored to be involved in the publishing project celebrating the centennial of CAFA. Over the past one hundred years, a large number of masters and masterpieces, which have always been associated with the fate of the nation and served the public, have been created at CAFA. CAFA’s motto “Do one’s utmost in the subtle detail and apply oneself to the mass” elicits CAFA’s deep artistic connotations and subtle presentations of beauty. CAFA’s spirit has also been incorporated in the writing and publication of the book. The stories and photos of the book were part of the fresh history, reflecting the spirit of CAFA.

Reading through the book, Director of the Academic Committee of CAFA, Xu Bing, and an author of the book, was deeply touched by the stories contained. Xu Bing said it showed many photos of young students from CAFA, despite only the older generation being in attendance at the book launch. In addition, Xu Bing also commented that it was an inviting book, reflecting CAFA’s characteristics. For example, the preface has an academic review of the school embodied in the creativity of CAFA, and it was more profound and subtle than portrayals of general learning at CAFA. Director of the Journal of CAFA, Yin Shuangxi, has conducted an in-depth study of CAFA’s history and presents three versions of school history, including the school history which was on shown at the CAFA History Museum, which was systematically sorted, the history in the school archives, which was seen by few ordinary people, and the history in the mind of the alumnus, whose demeanors and stories were all tasteful. “Classic of Poetry” composed of “Airs of the States”, “Hymns” and “Eulogies”. The “hymns” referred to the ode to the temple, and “airs” described the songs of people. He said that “The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA” reflects the air of CAFA.

“The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA” is a book on CAFA’s history and artistic growth. Speaking of the writing style of the book, Editor-in-Chief of CAFA ART INFO, Zhang Yanzi, said that there are two types of historic narrations: a solemn and magnificent narration, and a warm and exquisite narration, and this book belonged to the second type. It records many private stories expressing the artists’ perspectives and attitudes towards the observation of the world. The authors who participated in the writing of the book, attended CAFA in the 1980s and 1990s. This generation created the field of Chinese contemporary art and they still play an important role in the art circles. Perhaps, the state of their learning and the situation at that time was a new enlightenment for the people thinking of art.

The book is titled “The Gray Palette: When I Studied at CAFA”, in which “gray” means both the gray physical space of CAFA, and also the magnificent art world. “Palette” is a brilliant experience and a creation for each artist, and palettes present CAFA in a colorful light.

Text by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO   

Photo by Yang Yanyuan and Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO

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