Art Buzz January 26, 2012: Fu Baoshi: History Unfolding on a Hand Scroll “Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965)” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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History Unfolding on a Hand Scroll

Source: NYT, 1-26-12

“Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965)” is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through April 15.

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The painter Fu Baoshi was born in China in 1904, seven years before the Chinese Revolution brought 2,100 years of dynastic rule to an end. He died in 1965, months before China’s Communist regime unleashed the Cultural Revolution, which aggressively persecuted the country’s writers, artists and other intelligentsia, sometimes unto death….

His trajectory is the subject of an intriguing up-and-down survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It suggests that Fu, who came from very humble circumstances and was largely self-taught, was sustained by exceptional talent and a steely yet flexible dedication to his art. His skill and refinement, as well as his willingness to adapt, pervade this show, which is serene on the surface but less so beneath.

“Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965)” contains nearly 90 paintings. Early examples depict Tang-style court ladies, scholars perusing paintings and a calligrapher monk imbibing wine before setting to work. In later works, a line of destroyers plows through waves, and steam shovels strip mine for coal. The most imposing works throughout are panoramic views of majestic mountains, rivers and forests, in which a range of robust textures and scratchy, dry-brush markings impart a vigorous, sometimes wild sense of modernity.

Organized by the Nanjing Museum in China and the Cleveland Museum of Art, this exhibition is a landmark: the first full-dress retrospective of a 20th-century Chinese artist to be seen at the Met. It occupies ground prepared by the excellent exhibitions of classic Chinese painting that Maxwell K. Hearn, a longtime curator at the Met and now head of its department of Asian art, has been staging there for more than three decades….READ MORE

“Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965)” is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through April 15; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org

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