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JULIA F. ANDREWS & KUIYI SHEN 4 THE JAPANESE IMPACT ON THE REPUBLICAN ART WORLD: THE CONSTRUCTION OF CHINESE ART HISTORY AS A MODERN FIELD JULIA F. ANDREWS, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY KUIYI SHEN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT SAN DIEGO Recent efforts in Chinese art history to question, reformulate, or reconstruct the canon of Chinese painting are based upon an understanding in the discipline that we share a commonly accepted structure of ideas and works of art. The canon of Chinese painting, with which we teach our students, against which we measure potential museum acquisitions, and which we seek to improve, expand, or overturn through our research, is the product of the critical judgments, historical research, and, sometimes, the practical needs of our predecessors, each of which has built a part of the art historical edifice. Although challenging the canon has been a trend in most fields of art history in recent years, the end of the Maoist era in China created unique needs for the field of Chinese art history. A major part of the reformulation effort underway in the 1980s and 1990s was aimed, directly or indirectly, at bringing together the diverging views of the canon, be they Marxist or formalist, that developed in China and the West respectively between 1950 and 1980. What we may not always remember is that those alternative canons share the same foundations—the textbooks on Chinese art history written during the first half of the twentieth century. The birth and development of the discipline of Chinese art history itself is intimately tied to the contentious issues in play as a modern Chinese art world was formed in the early decades of the last century. This article examines the 1920s, a hitherto neglected moment in the development of the literature of Chinese art history. Based on a study of modern programs of art education in that period and comparisons among key art historical texts, it makes two linked arguments: that the newly defined art historical structure of the period owed an overwhelming and now forgotten debt to Japanese scholarship and that it altered previous understandings of China’s artistic past in significant ways. Finally, we will examine why the Japanese art historical model provided such a practical and intellectually satisfying solution to the challenges confronted by the May Fourth generation that it has survived in China to the present day. MODERN ART EDUCATION AND CHINESE INK PAINTING With the establishment of a modern educational system in China, beginning in 1902, and particularly after abolition of the civil service examinations in 1905, This article was first presented at the College Art Association’s Distinguished Scholar’s Session in Honor of James Cahill, “Decentered, Polycentric, and Counter-Canons in Chinese Painting,” chaired by Richard Vinograd, at the Annual Meeting, Seattle, 19 February 2004. Our research has been supported by grants from the Fulbright Program/Japan-United States Educational Commission and the Social Science Research Council/Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We are also extremely grateful to Professor Hiromitsu Kobayashi of the Institute of Comparative Culture at Sophia University, our faculty host in Japan, for sharing his great expertise with us, and to Ellen Johnston Laing, University of Michigan, for immense help in early stages of the project. Volume 32, No. 1 TWENTIETH-CENTURY CHINA 5 there existed an urgent need for textbooks and curricula in all areas of learning. The early history of Western-style art in China was determined almost entirely by functional needs—the drafting requirements of modern engineering, architecture, and empirical sciences propelled the teaching of pencil and water color drawing, and, in particular, the techniques of perspective, anatomy, and color used by Western practitioners in these media. In her examination of the introduction of Western artistic techniques through the government-operated school of Western learning, the Tongwenguan (同文舘) in Shanghai, beginning in the mid-1860s, and the translation projects of the Jiangnan Arsenal, Mayching Kao identified examples of translated “how to” books on Western drawing and painting published as early as the 1870s. The preface to The Engineers’ and Machinists’ Drawing Book, which was rendered into Chinese by Englishman John Fryer (1839-1896) for the Jiangnan Arsenal in 1872, opined, “drawing is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 4-35
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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