Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Chinese Art (Part II)

Hong Kong

Xu Bing B. 1955
B. 1955

the last panel with an oval seal mark of the artist in his New English Calligraphy script, mounted as hanging scrolls

ink on paper
each 226 by 69.5cm.; 89 by 27 3/8 in.
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Eslite Gallery, Taiwan.  
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner.

Catalogue Note

The text reads as follows:

Panel 1: Quotation from Chairman Mao Zedong

If, for instance, you reproach the masses for their utilitarianism and yet for your own utility, or that of a narrow clique, force on the market and propagandize among the masses a work which pleases only the few but is useless or even harmful to the majority, then you are not only insulting the masses but also revealing your own lack of...

Panel 2: ... self-knowledge. A thing is good only when it brings real benefit to the masses of the people. Your work may be as good as "The Spring Snow", but if for the time being it caters only to the few and the masses are still singing the "Song of the Rustic Poor", you will get nowhere by simply scolding them instead of trying to raise their level. The question now is...

Panel 3: ... to bring about unity between "The Spring Snow" and the "Song of the Rustic Poor", between higher standards and popularization. Without such a unity, the highest art of any expert cannot help being utilitarian in the narrowest sense; you may call this art "pure and lofty" but that is merely your own name for it which the masses will not endorse.

"The Spring Snow" and the...

Panel 4: ... "Song of the Rustic Poor" were songs of the Kingdom of Chu in the 3rd century B.C. The music of the first was on a higher level than that of the second. As the story is told in "Sung Yu's Reply to the King of Chu" in Prince Chao Ming's Anthology of Prose and Poetry, when someone sang "The Early Spring Snow" in the Chu capital, only a few dozen people joined in, but when the "Song of the Rustic Poor" was sung, thousands did so.

Talks at the Yanan Forum on Literature and Art. Calligraphy by Xu Bing.

Contemporary Chinese Art (Part II)

Hong Kong