Between the Nation and the Artist the Anti-japanese Propaganda Mural in Huanghelou(1938) and the Tunring Point of Modem Chinese Art
|School||China Academy of Art|
|Keywords||1938 Nation Artist the Huanghelou Mural Ni Yide the StormSociety|
The dynamic between the nation and the role of the artist constitutes one of thefundamental issues in the history of art. Such a dynamic became significantly strikingin modern Chinese art under the cross-contextual situation in which China began itsAnti-Japanese War in full force. Unlike the existing periodization of the history ofChinese modern art, which puts the year of1949as its landmark, this thesis arguesthat the year of1938indicates a historical turning point in relationship between thenation and the artist. The object upon which such an interpretation is made, is ananti-Japanese invasion propaganda mural outside the Huanghelou (Yellow CraneTower) in the city of Wuhan, created in the autumn of1938through the initiation ofTian Han, a prominent playwright, and completed collectively by Wang Shikuo, Likeran and a dozen other modern artists. The completion of the Huanghelou mural notonly represented the intensive relationship between the nation-state and the artists, butalso marked a profound departure from Chinese modern art movements driven byliberalism and individualism. Ni Yide, another key member of the mural’s paintingcrew, who was the founder of the Storm Society representing modernism in China,had some unprecedented experiences during the process of executing this symbolicproduct of nationalism and even totalitarianism, which puts the complex relationshipbetween the nation and the artist in a different perspective. Focusing on the making ofthe anti-Japanese propaganda mural in1938and its aftermath, this thesis, in fivechapters, consists of discussions on the leading role of the Third Bureau of PoliticalDepartment in the Military Affairs of the Nationalist Government in Wuhan, NiYide’s educational background of studying in Japan, the booming mural practice inmainland China in the early phase of the Anti-Japanese War, the propaganda warsbetween belligerent countries, and the continuous Western-style painting movementscarried on by Ni Yide in the Japanese Occupied Shanghai. In a cross-contextualparadigm, the thesis will not only redefine a significant yet long neglected transitionin the history of modern Chinese art, but also deepen our understanding of a variety offactors in the formation of such a turning point within a scope of modern art.