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The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China [Hardcover]

Gordon Barrass
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 7 2002
Calligraphy is a defining feature of Chinese culture, both a means of communication and a revered form of art. It has changed more dramatically during the half century since Mao Zedong established the People's Republic in 1949 than over the preceding fifteen hundred years. At first the traditional art of calligraphy was transformed into an instrument of political power and protest, wielded on an unprecedented scale. Over the past three decades it has emerged as a more visually exciting modern genre, one that offers fascinating insights into the people of modern China.

For The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China, Gordon S. Barrass interviewed many prominent calligraphers. He focuses on twenty-five individuals who have been key figures in this process and who exemplify its main trends, from the grand tradition to the avant-garde. Lavishly illustrated, this sumptuous book charts the development of these calligraphers and makes their distinctive voices accessible to Western readers for the first time.

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From Library Journal

To the Chinese, the art of calligraphy represents the epitome of culture-indeed, a scholar's "four treasures" are paper, brushes, insksticks, and inkstone. Although the dark days of China's Cultural Revolution (1966-76) were marked by suppression of the arts and free expression, calligraphy continued to flourish as a propaganda tool (Mao Zedong himself was a calligrapher and promoted its use to create the politically charged "big character posters"). In the decades since Mao's death, calligraphy has continued to evolve, but it is now an instrument of expression of the avant-garde. Barrass, who served in the British Embassy in Beijing in the early 1970s and travels frequently to China, here documents the work of 25 of the art form's most prominent and innovative practitioners. Along with interviews and photographs, the book presents beautifully reproduced examples of their work. Other features include a discussion of the influences that have shaped calligraphy over the last 50 years, Chinese transcriptions of the poetry interspersed throughout the book, and a bilingual bibliography. Although this book will be of primary importance to scholars of Chinese culture, it would also be a valuable addition to most art libraries.
Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

"This is an excellent handbook of contemporary Chinese calligraphy for English-speaking readers. Barrass loves calligraphy and offers much information about the lives and art of many of the finest modern masters of this ancient art. The book fills a big gap in the literature."—Richard Barnhart, coauthor of Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a book in English on this subject May 20 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Thank you Mr. Barrass for writing this book, it is such an interesting subject but very little literature is available in English to learn more about this subject.
The book talks about how chinese calligraphy has evolved. As chinese characters are already abstract forms of items, it is interesting to see the next step of how these modern calligraphers have injected their own expression into an old art form.
Although Mr. Barras could not include all the artists he would have liked to, there are also Chinese artists that left China that pursued similar inerests in calligraphy. One such person is Huang Yao...
Good job Mr. Barrass.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a book in English on this subject May 20 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Thank you Mr. Barrass for writing this book, it is such an interesting subject but very little literature is available in English to learn more about this subject.
The book talks about how chinese calligraphy has evolved. As chinese characters are already abstract forms of items, it is interesting to see the next step of how these modern calligraphers have injected their own expression into an old art form.
Although Mr. Barras could not include all the artists he would have liked to, there are also Chinese artists that left China that pursued similar inerests in calligraphy. One such person is Huang Yao...
Good job Mr. Barrass.
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