ZHANG DAQIAN: THE POLITICS OF DIVINE REDWOOD TREES IN POST-WAR TAIWAN
Zhang Daqian, one of the most productive and visionary ink painters in modern China, has received attention inadequate to his importance in English-language scholarship, which primarily focuses on Zhang’s biography. As a result, his paintings in American collections, such as Divine Redwood Trees in Taiwan (1970), have yet to be critically discussed. This thesis scrutinizes Divine Redwoods through a three step process to create a more thorough understanding of Zhang’s career and paintings. I begin by breaking down Zhang’s title “Picasso of the East” to dispel misconceptions surrounding his splashed ink practice. Then I position Zhang in the history of splashed ink in order to emphasize Zhang’s historical connection to Chinese precedents. Finally, I interpret Divine Redwoods by discussing the iconography of the painting in connection to the politically charged inscription written by Zhang. I argue that Divine Redwoods, while an example of Zhang’s signature splashed ink, is imbued with the painter’s political ideology. It represents his dedication to upholding Chinese cultural heritage and recognizing the Republic of China in Taiwan as the modern inheritor of Chinese history and culture.
NotesDegree Awarded: M.A. Art. American University
Degree grantorAmerican University. Department of Art