“2022: Chinese Artists Turn 100” website
When it was established in 1955, the National Museum of History (NMH) was Taiwan's first public museum. Even before exhibition spaces and museums proliferated across Taiwan, the NMH held well-received exhibitions featuring diverse pieces such as moon rocks, terracotta warriors and the works of the French painter Jean-Francois Millet. It also gave witness to many major events in the history of Taiwanese art. With the rise of the internet, social media and self-created media, the 66-year-old museum continues to reinvent itself by offering content beyond its physical walls. Although forced to close to the public due to the ongoing renovations, it is still offering uninterrupted and safe access to its services by providing online exhibitions. "Chinese Artists Turn 100," for example, explores masters of early 20th century art. The 2020 edition introduced artists of the previous generation who were born in 1921 and reached their centennial that year, while the following year focused on those born in 1922.
The "100 Years" series has now entered its third year, introducing Chinese artists born in 1923 and marking their centenary this year. As Chinese artists are the focus, the series uses the traditional xusui way of calculating age, which assumes that an individual is already one year old at birth and counts by Chinese calendar years. Under this system, artists born in 1923 are regarded as having turned 100 in 2022.
A great many artists were born in 1923, but only limited materials about them survive to this day, making it impossible to introduce each and every one. This online exhibition features 18 artists whose work is currently held in the NMH collection or who have had exhibited their work here, and who have made a name for themselves in Taiwan, throughout Asia or further afield. Each page aims to introduce the featured artist and relate their achievements in the most concise way possible.
The Treasures of the Museum's Collection section concentrates on six of these 18 artists whose works feature most prominently in the collection in terms of both quantity and diversity. Spanning different genres, these six artists include Wu Wen-pin, who specialized in figurative painting in the traditional Chinese gongbi fine line painting style; Wu Hsueh-jang, whose combination of traditional painting techniques, calligraphy and the structure of inscribed Chinese characters attempted to transcend traditional painting; Wu Jang-nung, a pioneer from the previous generation of Taiwanese ceramicists and a judge of the Chinese Ceramics Biennial, the former iteration of the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale; Shiy De-jinn, an artist passionate about Taiwan's scenery who painted traditional architecture and natural landscapes; Chen Chi-lu, an anthropologist who also excelled in painting and calligraphy; and photographer Yang Chi-hsin, who traveled throughout Taiwan taking innumerable photographs for Taiwan Harvest Magazine and faithfully recorded Taiwanese agricultural life in the 1950s and 1960s. These artists worked in different media, expressing beauty in all its forms to reveal a profound affinity for humanity and the arts.
Through the "Chinese Artists Turn 100" series, the NMH aims to bring art to the masses, allowing everyone to explore Chinese masterpieces of the 20th century in an accessible and informal way. It is hoped that enjoying these works will sow the seeds of curiosity in people's hearts and minds, where they will grow, thrive and ultimately blossom.