Monday, October 15, 2007

Xu Beihong (徐悲鴻)--famous horses

Six Horses, Xu Beihong, ink/colour on paper, 1942.

Loved by many for its strength & courage,
endurance, speed & grace, the horse has been celebrated in art & literature since the beginning of time. Civilizations advanced with the help of horses & these noble animals continue to fascinate us.

No wonder the horse is a favourite subject among artists. One master stood tall in this regard. He is the Chinese artist, Xu Beihong, also known as Hsü Pei-hung, or Ju Péon. His dynamic ink paintings of horses are widely recognized by Chinese audiences.

Galloping Horse, Xu Beihong, ink on paper, 1950.

With manes flying, powerful necks & legs straining, Xu Beihong's galloping horses come alive in front of you.

Beihong excelled at both oils & traditional Chinese ink. He integrated the ancient & modern, sought to combine Chinese brush & ink techniques with Western realism, perspective foreshortening & composition. His other subject matter included figures & portraits, birds & animals, plants & landscapes.

Horse Grooming, Xu Beihong, ink on paper, 1943.

Or, Beihong painted his horses resting, quietly grazing or grooming, infusing them with grace & intelligence.

Xu Beihong
was born in Yixing County, Jiangsu Province, on July 19, 1895. At age 9, he started to learn Chinese painting. In 1919, on a Chinese government scholarship, he studied in Paris, France, at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He learned the European manner of realistic oil painting & devoted many long hours sketching & studying the masterpieces in the museums of France, Berlin, Brussels, Italy & Switzerland. Rembrandt & Rubens were favourites. He spent 8 years abroad, during which time he had acquired a wide knowledge of art.

In 1933 he was invited by the French National Art Gallery in Paris to organize a Chinese art exhibition. The French government bought 12 traditional Chinese paintings, including works by Beihong, Qi Baishi & Gao Qifeng. Additional invites came from Italy, Belgium, Berlin, Moscow & Leningrad.

In 1949 he became president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing & was elected chairman of the National Union of Chinese Artists.

At the age of 58, Xu Beihong died of a stroke on September 26, 1953. His former residence in Beijing was converted into the Xu Beihong Museum. He left over 1,200 of his own works. By saving on his food & clothing, he had built an extensive collection & library of over 10,000 volumes on Chinese & foreign art, as well as over 1,200 other paintings & calligraphy from the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming & Qing Dynasties & of modern times.

Through Xu Beihong's efforts, new audiences & art museums abroad became familiar with Chinese art; as well, he had worked hard to advance Chinese painting within China.

Click here to see more of this artist's other Chinese paintings on Xu Beihong, Part II.

Album of Xu Beihong Paintings. Beijing: Rong Bao Bian (Chinese), 1990.

Paintings by Xu Beihong, Vol. 1. Compiled by Xu Beihong Museum & Beijing Publishing House. Beijing: Beijing Publishing House, 1979.

To see also my commentary on Chinese artist Wu Changshuo, click here.


Take a look and enjoy these videos with my posts:

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England & video

Damien Hirst & video

Pablo Picasso & video

Monet's Garden at Giverny & video

Vincent van Gogh Said ... & video

Robert Motherwell Bio & video

Major Cézanne Exhibit & video

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very informative! Keep up the good work. Look forward to your future blogs.