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The Printed Image in China, 8th–21st Century

May 5–July 29, 2012

Contemporary Prints

The works in this section of the exhibition, extraordinary in their stylistic diversity and technical ingenuity, exemplify the latest achievements of Chinese print artists, including lithographic and digital prints. Even in more traditional woodcuts, carving techniques often attain a level of refinement comparable to engraving or etching. Contrary to earlier times when human figures and narrative themes dominated printed pictures, highly individualistic landscapes have become more prevalent since the 1980s. Some Hangzhou artists, for instance, have used natural wood grain to give linear structure to landscape elements, while Sichuan printers have created a strong monochromatic style with bold designs that recall the aesthetic of photographic art.

Semiabstract compositions that are fundamentally Western in conception have also become an important genre of Chinese prints. When combined with words or text passages, however, these modern images still evoke the traditional Chinese ideal of integrating painting, calligraphy, and poetry. In the most subversive experiment, traditionally formatted books are printed with indecipherable characters.

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