A Body of Lines

A Body of Lines

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This monograph is about an artistic journey set off eighty years ago in the nascent Republic China. It charged into the “impossible” realm--nudity--in the grand Chinese tradition and turned it, if somewhat by accident, into the “possible”, unveiling perhaps the most censored body in the art world. The journey has since been progressing--at times in twists and turns--although the artist, Xu Beihong, who initiated it had died 14 years after the set-off--never had a chance to reap results--leaving behind a legacy largely misunderstood and undervalued. Xu Beihong, a Paris academy-trained Chinese painter at the turn of the 20th century, professed to reform a declining art at a time when China was seeking new political and cultural lights shed by the West. With a stern belief in the Western realism, Xu had brought home not just the realist techniques but also the classic iconography of the nude dated back to the Renaissance Venus. Xu had not offered us voluminous art works in this respect,...

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