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Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
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A New Kind of Painter for China, 1960s–1980s

January 30 - December 22, 2024
In Southwest Ambulatory

A New Kind of Painter for China, 1960s–1980s

January 30 - December 22, 2024
In Southwest Ambulatory

In the 1960s, the arts were seen as a valuable tool in the effort to create a new China on Socialist models. Since arts like painting were traditionally associated with wealthy elites, the central government wanted to cultivate artists from different class backgrounds. Farmers were one such group, and professional painters were sent to rural areas to educate people from farming communities in painting techniques and approved subjects.

As has happened in other times and places, a unique interplay of conditions, motivations, and individuals came together to make Huxian 户县, then a village in rural Shaanxi Province, a center for art production. A group from the village became known as the “Huxian Peasant Painters.” They were seen as representatives of a new art that was rooted in folk traditions and free of the elitist associations of painting from earlier eras. Painting classes in Huxian started in 1958, but the group gained widespread fame in the 1970s when their work was promoted by the Chinese government through mass-produced and widely distributed posters. The Allen recently acquired two paintings by Huxian painters and a poster that reproduces one of them.

Images:
Liú Zhīguì 刘知贵 (Chinese, b. 1945), A Sleepless Night, 1974. Gouache on paper. Museum Friends Fund, 2023.9.
Liú Fāng 刘芳 (Chinese, b. 1954–55), A Cotton Blossom Viewing Occasion, 1973. Gouache on paper. Museum Friends Fund, 2023.10.

Organized by

Kevin R. E. Greenwood

Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art

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