How a Chinese vase valued at €2,000 sold for €8m

Source: The Guardian (10/7/22)
‘A crazy story’: how a Chinese vase valued at €2,000 sold for €8m
French auction house tells of build-up to bidding war that led to an expert losing his job and a seller being left ‘traumatised’
By in Paris

Jean-Pierre Osenat conducts the auction of a tianqiuping-style vase in Fontainebleau near Paris.

Jean-Pierre Osenat conducts the ‘extraordinary’ auction of a tianqiuping-style vase in Fontainebleau near Paris. Photograph: Maison Osenat

In the 41 years of wielding the gavel at his auction house a stone’s throw from the royal chateau at Fontainebleau, Jean-Pierre Osenat had never seen anything like it.

“This is a crazy story,” he said. “Quite extraordinary.”

The story has cost one of the auctioneer’s experts his job, after a Chinese vase he declared an ordinary decorative piece worth €2,000 (£1,760) at most sold for almost €8m, nearly 4,000 times the estimate.

“The expert made a mistake. One person alone against 300 interested Chinese buyers cannot be right,” Osenat said. “He was working for us. He no longer works for us. It was, after all, a serious mistake.”

The extraordinary story began earlier this year when a French woman living abroad decided to sell furniture and various objects from her late mother’s home in Brittany. Having entrusted Osenat with the sale, the vase – which had belonged to her grandmother – was packed up, dispatched to Paris and put in a “furniture and works of art” auction of 200 lots, none of which was valued over €8,000. Continue reading

The Art of Manhua Magazine (1950-1960)

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (9/4/22)
The Propagandist’s Palette: The Art of Manhua Magazine (1950-1960)
By Kelly Reiling

Fig. 1: The Collectivization Movement, 1954.

In June of 1950, the magazine Manhua yuekan 漫画月刊 published its first issue in Shanghai. During the magazine’s lifespan, which lasted until 1960, Manhua yuekan and its cartoonists underwent periods of artistic suppression and expression, enacted by the newly-established Chinese government through a series of political campaigns. The consequences of these campaigns were drastic, as cartoonists were forced to communicate complex political concepts under severe governmental restraints. However, despite these fluctuations, the cartoonists of Manhua yuekan were still able to publish a vast and diverse range of cartoons in terms of style, content, and expression.

As a material object, Manhua yuekan generally consists of a front and back cover and, depending on the year, approximately ten to thirty pages of cartoons. During its first stage of publication, from 1950 to 1952, Manhua published black-and-white cartoons, with only the front and back covers in full color.[1] Its rerelease in 1953, however, made Manhua into “a larger format, full-color magazine.”[2] The front and back covers generally outline the main idea of the issue, whether that be international socialist unity, Mao’s new political campaign, or condemnation of the West. From June 1950 to July 1960, Manhua yuekan published 164 issues, which offered “nearly three thousand pages of visual and verbal materials through which to explore a multitude of artistic, social, and political phenomena from the early PRC.”[3]

Each issue of Manhua yuekan contains a broad assortment of comics, with their styles ranging from realistic and detailed to simple and minimalist to exaggerated and caricaturist. This is largely because Manhua employed numerous cartoonists, all of whom had their own unique techniques and styles that they incorporated into their drawings. Because of this, every issue of the magazine possessed a diverse assemblage of cartoons. Continue reading

Asia Society’s ‘Mirror Image’ exhibit

Source: The China Project (9/14/22)
Asia Society’s ‘Mirror Image’ exhibition presents new perspectives on Chinese art
The latest exhibition at the Asia Society spotlights a group of wildly talented Chinese artists born after 1976, the year of Mao Zedong’s death, and contemplates the ever-changing Chinese identity in the context of globalization.<
By Zhao Yuanyuan

Nabuqi’s installation “How to Be ‘Good Life.’” Photo courtesy of the Asia Society.

In 1998, a groundbreaking exhibition put together by the Asia Society caused enthusiastic ripples among art lovers and critics in the U.S. Curated by art historian Gāo Mínglù 高名潞, the sprawling show, titled Inside Out: New Chinese Art, was the first of its kind to survey more than 80 works created between 1985 and 1998 by artists from the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Featuring a significantly greater range of artistic media than any previous exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, the show offered visitors a window into how “transnational forces,” as termed by Gao, influenced Chinese artists’ lives and ideas.

Fast forward to 2022 and the Asia Society’s latest exhibition, Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity, which opened in New York in June and will run through December. As a sequel of sorts to 1998’s seminal event, the exhibition poses a crucial question: What is meant by “Chinese” art in the age of globalization and digital revolution, where ideas fluidly cross geographic, generational, and cultural boundaries? Continue reading

Lei Lei’s Geometric Regime of Animated Images

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (8/9/22)
The Artisanal Sensorial, or Lei Lei’s Geometrical Regime of Animated Images
By Dong Yang

Figure 1: Pear or Alien

The aura of contemporary art is a free association.–Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

In one of his later essays “Spinoza and the Three ‘Ethics,’” composed around 1990 and collected in the book Essays Critical and Clinical, Gilles Deleuze offers a mature and profound reading of Spinoza’s Ethics as a composite of what he calls “three elements” that coexist: “signs or affects, notions or concepts, essences or percepts.”[1] Deleuze carefully revisited Ethics two decades after his systematic study of Spinoza titled Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza. In this later essay, he largely departs from his former approach that regarded Ethics as a philosophically coherent and consistent work and instead discerns an increase in speed and magnitude as the book progresses, a gradual abandoning of all demonstrative methods to reach “the absolute speed of figures of light” —namely, the Spinozian God. Three dimensions of meaning concurrently prevail in the same book, which recognizes—in the manner of geometrical demonstration—both the finitude of individual beings and nature as a composite of an infinite number of such beings that is also the expressive God. These three dimensions are the bodily signs that mark the increase or decrease of power through bodily and intellectual interactions with the external world; common notions, which are formed after one experiences repeated instances of external affects that gradually shape an awareness of the commonalities between all beings, namely, relations, speed, and slowness; and, finally, the abstract light or transformative force that permeates both Spinoza’s book and his theological system. Continue reading

Peeling paint reveals work of HK graffiti artist

Source: NYT (7/17/22)
Peeling Paint in Hong Kong Reveals Work of Newly Relevant ‘King’
When he was alive, the graffiti of Tsang Tsou-choi, or the “King of Kowloon,” was considered peculiar and personal. In a radically changed city, his mostly vanished art now has a political charge.
By Austin Ramzy

When work by the graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-choi re-emerged beneath a Hong Kong bridge, the mundane setting became an unlikely attraction in a city where dissent has been stamped out.

When work by the graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-choi re-emerged beneath a Hong Kong bridge, the mundane setting became an unlikely attraction in a city where dissent has been stamped out. Credit…Anthony Kwan for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Often shirtless in summer, smelling of sweat and ink, the aggrieved artist wrote incessantly, and everywhere: on walls, underpasses, lamp posts and traffic light control boxes.

He covered public spaces in Hong Kong with expansive jumbles of Chinese characters that announced his unshakable belief that much of the Kowloon Peninsula rightfully belonged to his family.

During his lifetime, the graffiti artist, Tsang Tsou-choi, was a ubiquitous figure, well-known for his eccentric campaign that struck most as a peculiar personal mission, not a political rallying cry.

But Hong Kong has become a very different place since Mr. Tsang died in 2007, and his work — once commonly spotted, but now largely vanished from the streetscape — has taken on a new resonance in a city where much political expression has been stamped out by a sweeping campaign against dissent since 2020.

“In his lifetime, particularly early on, people thought he was completely crazy,” said Louisa Lim, author of “Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong,” a new book that examines Mr. Tsang’s legacy. “Even at the time that he died no one was really interested in the content or the political message of his work. But actually, he was talking about these Hong Kong preoccupations long before other people were — territory, sovereignty, dispossession and loss.” Continue reading

Archaeologist Fan Jinshi’s memoir

Source: (7/6/22)
Archaeologist Fan Jinshi’s Memoir: Ancient Buddhist Cave-temples in the Desert, Red Guards & the Spirit of Peking U
By Bruce Humes

Cultural Revolution: The Mogao Grottoes Miraculously Emerge Unscathed
(Excerpted from 我心归处是敦煌 by Fan Jinshi as told to Gu Chunfang)
Translated by Bruce Humes

Many people have asked me if thMogao Caves in Dunhuang were damaged during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

At the time, the Destroy the Four Olds, Cultivate the Four News campaign was sweeping the country, resulting in severe damage to many ancient sites and cultural artifacts. Everyone at the Dunhuang Academy was wondering: Would our cave-temples be spared?

My colleagues were indeed very concerned about the Red Guards wreaking havoc in the grottoes, because they were chock-full of fragile clay sculptures and murals. However, during the Cultural Revolution, not a single scroll, mural or sculpture in the academy’s care suffered damage — which can only be described as miraculous.

Many people can’t get their heads around this, and I have often been grilled about it by foreign journalists. “You can go and see with your own eyes that there was no damage at all,” I assure them. Continue reading

HK Palace Museum’s controversial beginnings

Source: SCMP (7/1/22)
Hong Kong Palace Museum: highlights to see among the national treasures on loan from Beijing, and its controversial beginnings
When the Hong Kong museum opens on July 2, there are some stunning national treasures to see among more than 900 loaned by the Beijing Palace Museum. Its opening is the culmination of a project criticised for the lack of public consultation when Hong Kong’s then No 2 leader Carrie Lam announced it in 2016

A festive robe made for a Chinese emperor on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. First announced in 2016, the museum is finally opening on July 2, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang

A festive robe made for a Chinese emperor on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. First announced in 2016, the museum is finally opening on July 2, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang

The Hong Kong Palace Museum, in the West Kowloon Cultural District, officially opens to the public on July 2 and features a range of Chinese artworks and relics.

The grand opening of the Hong Kong counterpart to Beijing’s Palace Museum coincides with the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. Nine galleries fill the 13,000-square-metre (140,000 sq ft) space, spread across five floors, exhibiting ink paintings, calligraphy, ceramics and other artefacts dating from as early as the 10th century.

Most of the pieces on loan are appearing in Hong Kong for the first time. Continue reading

Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Robert Moore’s review of Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age, by Shuangyi Li. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Michael Hill, our book review editor for translations/translation studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics:
Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age

By Shuangyi Li

Reviewed by Robert Moore

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)

Shuangyi Li, Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. 267 pp. ISBN 978-9811655616 (cloth).

Shuangyi Li’s Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age is a long-form study of four Franco-Chinese writers: Gao Xingjian 高行健, Shan Sa 山颯, Dai Sijie 戴思杰, and François Cheng 程抱一. All were born and raised in China but moved to France during early adulthood and compose works in French. All are also recipients of numerous awards, and one, François Cheng, is a member of the Académie Française, the first Asian-born person to be so honored. Li’s strategy is to demonstrate that all four share a recognizable aesthetic, one that is transmedial and transnational, and only emerges when we are able to understand how the cultures and languages with which they work influence each other simultaneously.

Chapter 1 is an introduction that lays out the conceptual framework for the study. Chapter 2 leads with a short consideration of some of the principal concerns of all four writers before launching into a long analysis of François Cheng’s Le Dit de Tianyi (The River Below in English translation). Chapter 3 discusses historically-minded works by Cheng, Shan, and Dai, with a particular eye on how images and motifs from ancient China can be re-presented and re-imagined in French. Chapter 4 looks at the way calligraphy influences, and is influenced by, the fiction of the same three writers. Chapter 5 concludes the main body of the study with a consideration of how Dai Sijie’s fiction, and Gao Xingjian’s painting, interact with each writer’s respective cinematic interests. Continue reading

HK Palace Museum set to open

Source: China Daily (6/28/22)
A 360° tour of Hong Kong Palace Museum

Scheduled to open to the public on July 2, the Hong Kong Palace Museum will display on rotation more than 900 treasures from the collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing. Built over four years, the design and construction of the HKPM reflect the charm of traditional Chinese culture.

Check the video to get a 360° tour!

See also: Director of the Beijing’s Palace Museum speaks on cross-culture exchange

The Future Story of Chinese Calligraphy workshop

The Future Story of Chinese Calligraphy: An Online Workshop

Bringing together scholars and artists from East Asia, Europe, and North America, this workshop seeks path-breaking approaches to the studies of Chinese calligraphy especially in transmedia contexts.

The event will take place virtually on Wednesday July 13 from 1 PM to 4:30 PM (London Time). Register here:

1 PM to 2:30 PM, Panel 1: Calligraphy × Painting 書畫

Michael Cavayero, Tang Dynasty Finger Painting and Buddhist Connections: Records of Zhang Zao

Shuo Hua and Sarah Ng, Semiotic Scripts and Calligraphic Expression: Capturing the Spirit of Antiquity in Modern Chinese Paintings

Yuetong Wang, My Story about Calligraphy Practice and the Current Situation of Chinese Contemporary Calligraphy Continue reading

Artist Geng Xue talk

Sculptures in Front of the Camera: An artistic talk by Geng Xue
Wednesday, 15 June 2022
12:30 – 14:00 British Summer Time

What happens when a work of sculpture is placed in front of the camera? Based on her own creative practices, contemporary Chinese artist Geng Xue reflects on her recently completed moving-image trilogy, which is composed of Mr. Sea (2014), The Poetry of Michelangelo (2015), and The Name of Gold (2019). The creative fusion of the language of film and that of sculpture – especially the ways in which lighting, poetry, sound, and traces of the hand come into play in the transformative process – will be discussed.

To register and for further information

About the Speaker
Geng Xue (born. 1983) is a contemporary Chinese artist whose work covers a variety of media, including porcelain, sculpture, painting, installation, and moving image. She currently teaches in the Department of Sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (of China), where she received her BFA in sculpture and MFA in printmaking. She has been invited to exhibit her works at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019), the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018), and the Busan Biennale, South Korea (2014), among many others.

Event Access
A Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees before the event starts.

Posted by: Panpan Yang

He Huaren (1958-2021)

Last week, I (belatedly) learned that Taiwan printmaker, illustrator, and bird expert He Huaren (何華仁) passed away in the week prior to Christmas 2021. MCLC Listserve members interested in (woodcut) printmaking and illustration will likely know of his work, and may have purchased books written by He or others, featuring his superb illustrations. He Huaren was also one of Taiwan’s most renowned birders and an activist for the preservation and protection of Taiwan’s bird and wildlife habitat; he was especially fond of raptors. Huaren was extremely generous, ever humble, had an outstanding sense of humor, and loved single malt scotch. Here are some sources on or by He Huaren.

戰勝腦瘤 何華仁用繪本和版畫記錄台灣野鳥

蘋中人:刻在心上的鷹姿 何華仁
何華仁鳥版畫遺作 預計二月上市       中國時報

Nicholas Kaldis

Animators’ Roundtable Forum

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (4/21/22)
Animators’ Roundtable Forum: Hong Kong Animation, Zoom Webinar, May 12-14, 2022

The history of Hong Kong animation has always been translocal and transnational. It can be traced back to at least the late 1940s, when some mainland animators and cartoonists in exile like the Wan Brothers, Zhang Guangyu, Liao Bingxiong, and Te Wei made animated shorts and even experimented with the making of an animated feature film in postwar Hong Kong. But the local animated filmmaking did not begin until the 1950s, when advertising companies initiated the practice of using animation in commercials. Live-action filmmakers also began to skillfully incorporate animated special effects into martial arts cinema and experiment with animation techniques in short films. The early 1980s witnessed the rise of animated feature films with the release of Old Master Q series, which were co-productions between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Tsui Hark’s CGI feature A Chinese Ghost Story (1997) involved the professionals and studios in Japan, Taiwan, and mainland China. It was not until 2001 that a locally produced animated feature film, My Life as McDull, made its debut in Hong Kong. With the digital turn in the 1990s, independent animated filmmaking flourished, characterized by a variety of narrative and formal innovations that enriched the international film festivals around the world. Locally produced but marked by a distinct anime style with Hong Kong flavor, Kong Kee’s Dragon Delusions project (2018-present) opened a new path for Hong Kong independent animation. The co-production of Astro Boy (2009) between Hong Kong and the world also blazed a trail for Hong Kong commercial animation. Amidst the global flows of culture, can we still defend the “Hong Kongness” of Hong Kong animation in a floating city that is disappearing? Continue reading

Manhua Modernity review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul Bevan’s review of Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn, by John A. Crespi. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Manhua Modernity:
Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn

By John A. Crespi

Reviewed by Paul Bevan

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2022)

John A. Crespi, Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn. Oakland: University of California Press, 2020. xiv + 236 pp., incl. 75 ills. ISBN 9780520309104 (paperback).

I have met John Crespi in person only once. I’ve always thought this a pity, because we work in similar areas and explore the same sort of material in our research. Our one and only meeting took place quite by chance in a reading room in the Shanghai Library more than a decade ago, at a time when scholars from outside China took library research and fieldwork for granted. I’d been told in advance by Michel Hockx that John would be in Shanghai at the same time as me, but I had made no plans to meet him. One afternoon in the library, on seeing what appeared to be an American man holding a copy of Zhongguo manhua (中國漫畫), I immediately guessed that this was John and promptly introduced myself. For both of us, the research into manhua and pictorial magazines that we carried out in Shanghai—on this occasion, and on subsequent visits—eventually resulted in our respective monographs.

In the introduction to his book, Crespi tells the captivating story of how he was introduced to manhua in the mid-1990s through piles of dusty volumes in an underground warehouse, a converted bomb shelter belonging to the “China Bookstore’s Old Periodicals Department” (1). Today, at a time when Chinese historical magazines of all types have become highly sought after as collectables in China and abroad, a story of exciting discovery and acquisition such as this seems like a dream of another age. The magazines John purchased at the time became the basis for his hugely valuable project, the digitization of the magazine Modern Sketch, and related websites at Colgate University and MIT’s Visualizing Culture project. Continue reading

International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935 lecture

Dear all,

We invite you to an online Zoom lecture “Nationalist Internationalism: International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935” of Dr. Xing Zhao (Assistant Professor of Art and Design, Nanjing University). The lecture is part of the Lecture Series: Re-examining Modernity and Contemporaneity through Chinese Art (2022/23) at the University of Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG).

Date/Time (Hong Kong Time): 18/05/2022 13:00-14:00
Venue: Online on Zoom
Language: English
Registration link:


This presentation focuses on the “International Exhibition of Chinese Art” (1935) in London, which deployed art for public diplomacy and spoke a modern international language that embodied the rising awareness of national culture as promoted by the League of Nations. While the Republican government lacked the fundamental economic and military infrastructure critical for navigating the modern world, the alternative system of soft power and brand nationalism rooted in culture, tradition, and morality assumed the responsibility of communicating a unified image of China as a modern nation-state to the domestic and global audiences. Continue reading