Research on the Art of Zhu Ming with Special Focus on His ‘Taiji’ and ‘The Living World’ series

Lui, Shi Mun Patricia 呂詩敏
1985
Supervisor: Dr. N. Corazzo and Prof. H.Y. Shih

Despite the imposing wealth of content and diversity of scholarship in Chinese art history, twentieth century Chinese sculpture remains virtually an unexplored area. For this reason, it is thought that research on the Taiwanese sculptor, Zhu Ming (b. 1938), acclaimed as the most distinguished Chinese sculptor since the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 14th century) could make a significant contribution to the perception of sculptural exploration taking place in twentieth century Taiwan as well as being a survey of the artist’s sculptural career.

Part One of this paper outlines the historical context. Major historical and artistic events in mainland China are briefly reviewed in Chapter One to provide a basis of comparison with that of Taiwan, while placing Zhu Ming ‘s art in a broader framework. Twentieth century Taiwan is investigated as an entity in Chapter Two and Chapter ·Three, the former covering the period 1895-1949,·the latter covering the period since 1949. Southern Chinese folk art tradition, the introduction of European art through Japan to Taiwan, the ‘Modern Movement’ in art and the ‘Native Soil Movement’ are foca1 points of these chapters.

In Part Two, Zhu Ming’s life and his art are subjects of study. Chapter .Four contains a brief biography of Zhu Ming from his birth until 1968. Integrated within this period is his apprenticeship to Southern Chinese folk sculpture tradition, under Li Jinchuan. Chapter Five treats Zhu’s sculptural developments between 1968 and 1976, during which he was apprenticed to Yang Yingfeng, whose influence on his aesthetic concepts was significant.

Chapters Six and Seven are devoted to the double focus of this paper, the ‘Taiji’ and ‘The Living World’ series. The two series together span a period of ten year; their richness and continuity render them eloquent witnesses of Zhu Ming’s conceptual and formal development in sculpture. With these two series, Zhu Ming brought about a twentieth century breakthrough in Chinese sculpture by transcending the long-standing supposition of Chinese art critics of the past, that sculptural materials have their limitations intractability, and by complementing Chinese aesthetics. It is here also that Zhu Ming succeeded in finding his own resolution to an intellectual dilemma faced by twentieth century Chinese artists in general: how to live up to the native Chinese tradition yet respond to the contemporary situation.