Pine Cliff and Waterfall

Liu Haisu Chinese

Not on view

Liu Haisu studied Western painting in Shanghai, Japan, and Europe, favoring the expressive styles of the Post-Impressionists over the academic realism advocated by Xu Beihong (1895–1953) and the Soviet-inspired Social Realists. In spite of Liu's progressive outlook, his oil painting style, in the coarse, impasto manner of van Gogh, changed little during his long career; his Chinese-style paintings show a similarly vigorous brushwork.

This picture reflects Liu's enduring interest in traditional landscape painting, particularly the bold style of the early Qing individualist master Shitao (1642–1707). Like Shitao, Liu sought inspiration directly from nature, particularly the dramatic cliffs and craggy pines of Yellow Mountain. As he proudly proclaims in the legend of one of the seals on this scroll: "Yellow Mountain is my teacher." In this monumental image, Liu's dashing brushwork and ink washes are swept up in a single dynamic compositional movement, in which the rearing cliff resembles a cresting wave.

Pine Cliff and Waterfall, Liu Haisu (Chinese, 1896–1994), Hanging scroll; ink on bark paper, China

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