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  Literature and Artistic Development

Print, Sculpture and Architecture in the New Era (Chong-Ray Hsiao, Chao-Ching Fu)


     This essay reviews the development of print, sculpture and architecture, respectively in the Republic of China in the past hundred years from 1911 to 2011. Geographically, the discussion covers China and Taiwan before 1949 and focuses on Taiwan after 1949. 



      Block printing is an important invention of ancient China. As early as the Sui and Tang Dynasties, print was already a popular way in the promotion of Buddhism. Buddhist prints were the earliest form of engraved arts. Although the art of print grew and diversified along with time, traditional woodblock print was challenged by the arrival of western print technology in the late 19th century and went into a gradual decline. The development of print in the past hundred years can be outlined as follows:

1.     The arrival and thriving of western print technology in the early years of the Republic of China: Lithographic print gradually superseded the traditional wood print after its advent.  It became widespread in early years of the Republic of China because of the merchandise produced with the technique.

2.     The movement of new engraving in the 1930’s: Lu Hsun played a prominent role in this movement. He inspired many young artists to create wood-engraved art works to express social concerns and criticism.

3.     The anti-communist and countryside themes in the period from 1949 to 1960.

4.     Movement of modern print in the 1960’s and 1970’s: Many arts organization that pursued modernity were established in the late 1950’s. Among all, the Association of Modern Print founded in 1959 was the most influential.

5.     The revival of print in the 1980’s: Although the nativist movement did not result in a dramatic breakthrough for print arts during this time, it facilitated the re-discovery of the print works created during the Japanese occupation depicting traditional customs and the subsequent revival of traditional print.

6.     Diversity after 1990: Print has become an independent art form and many individual print studios have been opened. In addition, various contests and awards attract the interest of young artists and encourage diversity and creativity in themes, forms and techniques, etc.   


      Numerous fascinating works of sculpture were produced in ancient China, such as the giant Buddhist sculptures in caves. However, sculpture, as a media for artists to express their personality and thoughts, is a product borne under western influence after the establishment of the Republic of China. In this article, the development of sculpture is discussed as follows:

1.     The first rise of realistic portrait sculpture (1912-1945): The first contact with western sculpture occurred in the early years of the Republic of China via the painters educated in Japan. The most influential artists were Chiang Hsiao-chian and Lee Chin-fa in China and Huang Tu-shui in Taiwan.

2.     Realistic sculptures of political and historical figures and the impact of the provincial arts exhibitions (1945-1960).

3.     The rise of modern sculpture (1960-1970).

4.     The island-wide promotion of modern sculpture (1980’s): The National College of Arts (Taipei National University of Arts today) and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum were established in this period. In addition, the sculpture parks and the 228 Incident Monument brought public art in Taiwan to the first peak.

5.     The development of public art under government policy (1990-the 21st century): The establishment of cultural departments in local governments supported and promoted the development of installation art, public art and landscape art.


      The development of architecture in the Republic of China in the past hundred years is like the history of world architecture in miniature. In addition to new styles of architecture originating from classical Chinese architecture and the traditional architecture of different regions, architecture in western styles also emerged with the arrival of world trends in architecture. The review of the development of architecture is outlined as follows:

1.    The rise of the new architecture based on the classical Chinese style (1912-1949): The most representative works of the time were the National Beijing Library and the Urban Planning of the Capital Nanjing.

2.    The spread of western architecture (1912-1949): During this period, not only facilities used by western people, but many government agencies and public buildings were also in the western style.

3.    The emergence of modernist architecture (1950’s and1960’s): US aid, the architecture in Tunghai University and the Association of the Research for Contemporary Architecture had a very profound influence.

4.    The continuation of new buildings in the classical Chinese style (1950’s-1970’s).

5.    The arousal of regional consciousness (1970’s-1980’s).

6.    Diversity and multiplicity (1980’s-1990’s): Government support for the arts and culture was the most significant feature of the period; in addition, city aesthetics were emphasized for the first time in Taiwan.

7.    Globalization and glocalization (21st century): Particularly noteworthy are the building of 101 Taipei and the rehabilitation and reuse of old buildings; in addition, green architecture and sustainable environment gradually take the lead in future development.




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