Continual Experimentation in Modern Chinese Printmaking

Co-presented with the Confucius Institute at the University of Sydney

Professor Xiaobing Tang
17 May, 2011

When modern Chinese art and literature emerged in the first half of the twentieth century, it was the modern woodcut movement that thrived in China in the 1930s that was one of the consequential expressions of the avant-garde. The woodcut movement drew upon international inspiration–from German Expressionism, Soviet wood engravings, and Japanese creative prints–and the movement had a critical place at the intersection of historical events, individual efforts, and competing discourses on art.

In his presentation for Sydney Ideas Xiaobing Tang discussed the logic of experimentation at different stages in the development of modern Chinese printmaking. Various experiments in artistic form, conception, and production point to many competing social and cultural visions. Tang argued that experimentalism is at once a key value in modern Chinese art and a useful historicising concept.

Professor Xiaobing Tang

Professor Xiaobing Tang is the Helmut F. Stern Professor of Modern Chinese Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. Professor Tang’s work focuses on twentieth-century Chinese literature and engages a wide range of genres, periods, and theories. In 2005 he was the recipient of a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, which has enabled him to pursue training in art historical studies. The fellowship also supported his studying of printmaking at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. In 2005 he was the recipient of a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, which enabled him to pursue training in printmaking and art historical studies.

Xiaobing Tang’s latest book is Origins of the Chinese Avant-Garde: The Modern Woodcut Movement. He is the guest curator of Multiple Impressions: Contemporary Chinese Woodblock Prints, the first large-scale exhibition in the United States of Chinese prints made in the 21st century. The exhibition is opening in July this year at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.