Arts and Culture
Liu Haisu (1896-1994) was one of the founding fathers of Chinese modern art and modern art education. He was a pioneer in various fields of the Chinese artistic landscape, introducing new materials, concepts and practices including live models and drawings from nature. His painting La neige au Luxembourg was the first painting by a Chinese painter purchased by a French museum during the painter's lifetime. However, his place today in the collective memory does not reflect these promising beginnings. Our presentation addresses the following tasks: to explain how Liu Haisu took possession of the materials provided by the Chinese culture in which he grew up and by the European culture in which he was trained in order to create a completely original cultural formula integrating new concepts, terminology and visual aspects of what would become modern Chinese art. On the other hand, it aims to understand the reception of his work as an artist and as a theoretician by his fellow artists, the intellectual and political elite and the general viewing audience of his time. We will rely on the author's works written during his travels to Europe (1929-1935) and on the writings and testimonies of his contemporaries. If the painter could be considered a "cultural phenomenon", it was not only because of the encounter of an extraordinary personality with a double culture, but also because this encounter took place at a time when the stakes of China's existence on the world’s cultural scene were taking on an unprecedented scale.