Celebrating the golden age of 20th-century illustration

An exhibition of illustrations celebrating Shanghai in the 20th century is underway at the Xuhui Art Museum.
Ti Gong

An exhibition of illustrations celebrating Shanghai in the 20th century is going on at the Xuhui Art Museum.

The show displays more than 200 pieces of work created between 1900 and 1999, including painting and print.

Some of the illustrations are highly valued due to their expressiveness, unique style and technical complexities. And visitors get a brief impression of how the art of illustration developed in Shanghai over the past 100 years.

A number of books and magazines with illustrations first appeared in the early 1900s thanks to the fast development of the modern publishing industry. Illustration art in Shanghai at that time was a mix of Chinese traditional painting and a Western style.

Most of the stories originated from the changes China experienced after the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the civil war and the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

From the mid-1900s to the late 1970s, the fast development of some children's publishing houses gave birth to a large number of picture books, which made a good use of folk art techniques, such as wood-carving, fresco and ink-wash painting.

The golden period of illustration in Shanghai came from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. Besides narrative ones, there were also commercial illustrations on packages, medical illustrations in textbooks, fashion illustrations for designer events and concept art.

Many young Chinese parents born in the 1980s have a strong attachment to children's illustration books they read between the 1980s and the 1990s.

Today, with the spread of the Internet and the other computerized means of art, hand-drawn illustrations has been gradually replaced by digital design or multimedia collage. However, the artistry of illustration cannot be replaced, no matter how good technology is in the 21st century.

Ti Gong

Exhibition details

Date: Through January 21, 9am-5pm

Venue: Xuhui Art Museum

Address: 1413 Huaihai Rd M.

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