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The Reformer’s Brush:
Modernity and Traditional Media in China

February 27 - April 8, 2011

Introduction / Section 1 / Section 2 / Section 3 / Section 4 / Section 5 / Epilogue



To its creators, this final painting may well have been less significant as a finished object than it was as a very elegant party game, which afterward became a memento of their New Year’s gathering. Their lives spanned the period from the end of the Taiping Rebellion in China and early constitutional monarchy in Japan, through reform, revolution, warlordism, cultural change, Japanese expansionism, civil war, and a second revolution, followed by the challenges of the PRC period after 1949. Their works, in traditional media, tell the story of these tumultuous times—China’s “long twentieth century.” That they can do so is testament to the remarkable durability of brush and ink as signifiers of cultural meaning and prestige.

A pure offering for New Year's Day
Qi Baishi (Buddha's-hand citron)
Zhang Daqian (pot of narcissus)
Mei Lanfang (plum blossoms)
Wang Yachen, bowl of goldfish
Zhang Yuguang, vase with pine boughs