The 21st Annual Nelson Wu Memorial Lecture: "Chinese Cosmopolitans in Twentieth Century Shanghai"

Julia F. Andrews, Distinguished University Professor, The Ohio State University

The birth of the Pegasus Society, or Tianmahui, in 1919 launched a sustained effort among Shanghai artists living in or near the booming treaty port metropolis to create a Chinese art world that was fully cosmopolitan.  Its founders were avid enthusiasts of oil painting, and wished to raise its practice and appreciation to an international standard through rigorously juried regular public exhibitions.  Although their goals were similar to those of many iconoclastic young cultural figures in the May Fourth era, from the beginning, the Pegasus Society exhibitions and publicity made clear that Chinese painting in ink was an equal part of its program.  This theoretical position differed from that of Beijing-based radicals like Chen Duxiu,  and the group took pride in the renowned Chinese painters and calligraphers who served as its jurors.  This lecture will consider how the approach of the Pegasus Society in its decade of activity (1919-1928) and its impact on the subsequent generation of Chinese artists yielded a distinctive artistic culture in the Shanghai-Hangzhou region.   Their attitudes toward cosmopolitan modernity may defy our standard assumptions and set the stage for more pluralistic definitions of contemporaneity in Chinese art.

Julia F. Andrews, a specialist in Chinese art, was the first American art historian to conduct dissertation research in China after formal establishment of US-China relations in 1979.  Her first book, Painters and Politics in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979 (University of California Press,1994), which she wrote during her early years at Ohio State, won the Joseph Levenson Prize of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for the best book of the year on modern China.  Her more recent book, Art of Modern China (co-authored with Kuiyi Shen), published by the University of California Press, 2012, received the biennial Humanities Book Prize of the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) in 2013.

Free and open to the public.