Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Chinese face and Western body : images of masculinity in Xu Beihong's paintings
Author: Zhou Pearce, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9355 8299
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis explores images of masculinity in Chinese visual art in the early twentieth century paintings of Xu Beihong. In particular, I focus on Xu’s introduction of Western idealism into Chinese figurative painting and his effort to transform China’s “face.” When Xu Beihong returned to China in 1927 after studying Western art in Paris and other cultural centers for eight years, he brought with him a new vision of ideal masculinity, one which would not only embody national spirituality, but also bring back China’s “face” after a series of national defeats and perceived humiliations. Inspired by idealistic Western art, Xu replaced conventional depictions of Chinese men (which were typically rather androgynous, gentle, stiff, stylized, and clothed) with more heroic, muscular, graceful, idealized and naked images that could combat the visual image of Chinese men as the ‘sick men of East Asia.’ Unfortunately, this aspect of his work has been either ignored by Chinese scholars or has opened him up to attack in Chinese art circles and in Western criticism. The dissertation proposes that the time is ripe for a new appreciation of this aspect of his work. I further argue that a specific focus on Xu’s representation of masculinity enables us to place him in proper historical context. I use the concept of Chinese face as a lens through which to gain insight into the trajectory of Xu Beihong’s creative life as an impoverished and provincial traditional painter, as a practitioner of Western idealism, and as a pioneer and educator who ventured to reimagine Chinese men. This dissertation intends to clarify that face was among Xu’s primary reasons for adherence to idealism and that restoring face was one of his ultimate goals.
Supervisor: Wagner, C. ; Zhuang, Y. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available