Art education on display

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Art education on display
Co-curator of An Exhibition of Modern Art Education Context in China, Jin Wenyi (left), and visitors look at the historical documents on display at Liu Haisu Art Museum in Shanghai.[Photo provided by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Exhibition highlights players and moments that shaped the sector.

An exhibition at the Liu Haisu Art Museum in Shanghai, which runs until Sunday, presents the evolution of modern art education in China. Jointly hosted by the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts and the Liu Haisu Art Museum, An Exhibition of Modern Art Education Context in China is showcasing artworks by 50 20th-century masters, alongside more than 300 copies of vintage textbooks and other historical documents, some of which are on public view for the first time.

Tushanwan Orphanage established in 1864 by the Catholic Church in Xujiahui, a downtown area in today’s Xuhui district of Shanghai, is believed by many to be the cradle of “Western painting” in Shanghai, as the institution taught the main techniques of the genre, which primarily includes oil painting, watercolor, gouache and print techniques, that were introduced from Europe.

By 1934, the orphanage had received about 2,500 children. To help them find a livelihood, the orphanage opened schools that provided basic education, including art classes that taught pencil and charcoal drawing, watercolor and oil painting, as well as sculpture.

The Tushanwan art studio, founded by Joannes Ferrer (1817-56), a missionary from Spain, taught art in a completely different way from the traditional Chinese practice, when apprentices worked under professional craftsmen. Different teachers taught specific aspects of arts, and the classes were attended by many students at the same time.

The studio was so successful that it produced renowned artists and pioneer educators in modern Chinese art history, such as Zhou Xiang and Zhang Chongren. These pioneering artists and educators went on to open their own studios and compile Chinese textbooks of Western painting methods and techniques.

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