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Contemporary Paintings in the Traditional Manner from the People's Republic of China

DATES March 08, 1980 through May 04, 1980
ORGANIZING DEPARTMENT Contemporary Art
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
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  • March 8, 1980 The exhibition Contemporary Paintings in the Traditional Manner from the People’s Republic of China demonstrates the continuing friendship and cultural exchange between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. On view at The Brooklyn Museum March 8 through May 4, 1980, the exhibition was organized by the China Exhibition Agency, Beijing, People’s Republic of China. In return, the first American art exhibition to be seen in China, Lewis W. Hine, 1874-1940: A Retrospective of the Photographer, is presently touring the People’s Republic of China through June 1. The Brooklyn Museum also hosted the first American showing of the Peasant Paintings from Huhsien County of the People’s Republic of China exhibition in 1977.

    Although mainly by living artists, the fifty paintings in the Contemporary Paintings exhibition are all traditional in format (hanging scroll), subject matter (landscapes, figures, birds-and-flowers), technique (ink and color on paper or silk), and style (generally, the so-called literati style).

    The force of tradition is very strong throughout the history of Chinese painting. Chinese artists learned to paint by copying the work of earlier artists until they had mastered various styles and were ready to develop individual styles of their own.

    The Chinese have always valued the arts of calligraphy and painting. These are closely related; the same type of brush, ink,
    and paper are used for both. Furthermore, since early times, Chinese paintings have often incorporated passages of calligraphy -- usually a poem composed by the artist himself, who takes into consideration the placement, proportions, and calligraphic style of the inscription in relation to the picture, as well as their mutual theme. The artist habitually signs the poem-picture, and stamps it with one or more of his seals.

    The related arts of calligraphy and painting are uniquely important in China because a Chinese child literally grows up with a brush in his hand; children learn writing from an early age. This training involves the mastery of the most flexible and difficult -- but also the most varied and expressive -- of writing and drawing implements, the Chinese brush.

    The press is invited to a special preview on Wednesday, March 5, 6-9 PM. Please call the Public Relations Department to arrange photography sessions. An illustrated checklist ($.25) is available.


    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1980, 042-43.
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