Roberta WueDec 11, 2015
Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late 19th-Century Shanghai
University of Hawaii Press 2014
Roberta Wue's new book brings readers into the world of late Qing Shanghai, a center of art, culture, and entertainment. As artists fled to the city after the Taiping Rebellion, they helped create new ways of being an artist that emerged from new kinds of relationships between them, their audiences, and their work. Art Worlds: Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late 19th-Century Shanghai (University of Hawaii Press, 2014) focuses on Ren Bonian (1840-1895), a celebrated painter of the Shanghai School, and his circles and audiences. The chapters each use a particular medium or format to explore the changing landscape of the arts in Shanghai, from painted fans and fan shops, to advertisements and mass media (including an interesting account of art world activism around famine relief), to illustrated books and periodicals (including inserts accompanying the Dianshizhai huabao), to portraits of members of the art world (including a truly amazing image of a man about to butcher a dog). It is a fascinating and beautiful book.