Monitors of change

Updated 2017-11-21 15:08:12 China Daily
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Paintings on display at the Beauty in the New Era exhibition include Back Basket by Pang Xunqin, Lamp, Flower and Fruit by Lin Fengmian and Flower and Bird by Ren Bonian.(Photo provided to China Daily)

Paintings on display at the Beauty in the New Era exhibition include Back Basket by Pang Xunqin, Lamp, Flower and Fruit by Lin Fengmian and Flower and Bird by Ren Bonian.(Photo provided to China Daily)

Beauty in the New Era, an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, displays works from the modernist revolution in Chinese art.

For those who can afford it, owning expensive works of art is often viewed as a showcase for their wealth and an investment that may bring enormous returns.

On Wednesday, the price of the world's most expensive artwork soared to 0 million at a New York auction. This staggering sum was paid for Salvator Mundi, a painting attributed to the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci.

The buzz created by this will die down, and people will again focus on the eternal charm of art and the uncommon spirit of artists, which are what appeal to most people rather than the monetary value of an artist's work.

This is the sentiment that has motivated Beauty in the New Era, an exhibition on at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, through Sunday.

On display are more than 200 paintings and calligraphic works from the museum's collection, through which one can look back on the modernist revolution of Chinese art. This began in the late 19th century and proceeded throughout the 20th century.

And it is a masters' show. The 14 artists featured at the exhibition made progressive endeavors to rejuvenate Chinese painting during the clash of Eastern and Western cultures. Each of them generates pages in any book on the history of modern Chinese art.

Some of them demonstrate their creativity through the traditional Chinese medium of ink paintings. These include He Shaoji who is recognized as the top calligrapher of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and Zhao Zhiqian whose artistic style anticipated the establishment of the Haipai (or Shanghai) School of Painting. Works by the school's forerunners such as Ren Bonian and Wu Changshuo are also exhibited.

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The National Art Museum of China has re-created the Lao She Gallery as part of its Beauty in the New Era exhibition. The gallery is a tribute to author Lao She and his wife, Hu Jieqing, some of whose collected artworks are on display at the show.(Photo provided to China Daily)

The National Art Museum of China has re-created the "Lao She Gallery" as part of its Beauty in the New Era exhibition. The gallery is a tribute to author Lao She and his wife, Hu Jieqing, some of whose collected artworks are on display at the show.(Photo provided to China Daily)

Their works are an exploration of how to modernize Chinese art traditions, so they embrace the diverse interests of the emerging middle-class in the city at that time.

Works on display include paintings by Qi Baishi, Fu Baoshi and Li Keran, which mark their breakthroughs in integrating Western styles in the three major genres of classical Chinese ink painting - flower and bird, mountain and water, and figures.

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