The Life and Art Photography of Lang Jingshan (1892-1995)

Lai, Kin Keung Edwin 黎健強
Supervisor: Prof. Q.L. Wan

Lang Jingshan (1892-1995) was indisputably the most prominent figure in the history of Chinese art photography. Indeed, his personal life, artistic career, theories of art photography, and influence have been regarded by some writers as a summing-up of the main currents of Chinese art photography from its inception to about 1980. This thesis traces his life and career and explains the related historical background, analyzes his theories of art photography and examines his art photographs. In short, it gives a comprehensive account of the life and art of one of the best known names in modern Chinese art.

This thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter One is the historical background. It gives a summary account of the history of Chinese art photography from its inception to the present. Since Lang Jingshan had become interested in photography before the advent of art photography in China, it also briefly charts the introduction of the medium to China and the early developments.

Chapter Two traces Lang Jingshan’s life and photographic career. It includes his family background, his childhood and education, his first contact with art and photography, his jobs and marriages, death, etc. Especially it looks into the various phases of Lang Jingshan’s career in art photography.

Chapter Three investigates Lang Jingshan’s views and theories of art photography. It examines the artist’s views of photography, art and art photography, and discusses his theories of art photography, and the theories and procedures of composite photography which he was best known for.

With more than five hundred illustrations Chapter Four engages a close study of Lang Jingshan’s photography. Through the organization of his output in relations to their time periods and subjects, it interprets these images with references to the history of Chinese photography and the artist’s personal life.

Chapter Five is the conclusion. It deals with two central issues: what position Lang Jingshan occupied in the history of Chinese art photography, and how his art can be critically assessed. It argues that Lang Jingshan had played an important role in the early developments of Chinese art photography, and although there are problems and limitations in his views and art, they offer a lesson that we can learn from.