CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


HUGUET, Bérangère
Picturing the indiscernible outline of the shifting fluid Zhang Daqian’s never ending quest to self-authenticity

Session 9 Autonomy and Elusion


Picturing the indiscernibleoutline of the shiftingfluid

Zhang Daqian’s never ending quest to self-authenticity

Amongst all the painters whose works sprinkle the Middle Kingdom's art history, Zhang Daqian may be the one who embodies China's artists' conception of authenticity the most.

After spending more than fifty years of his career, his engagement and his life to reproduce and copy master pieces of the great painters of old times and magnificent wall paintings of the Dunhuang grottoes, Zhang Daqian extracted from the very core of China's culture a more personal corpus of paintings which became an epitome of literati art.

As one of the latest offspring of China's long gone old pedagogical culture, this artist who died in the early 1980's, takes us with him on a journey across the depths of his country's mentality, urging us to get in touch with almost everything that made it grand and fabled. His work is the apotheosis of the way Chinese artists and art lovers used to consider their own art history as well as the ultimate stitch closing the pictorial wounds of the twentieth century.

Let us forget our preconceived western notions of authenticity and copy as well as our constant obsession of disentangling what is false from what is true as if every single thing had to be either real or fake. Our western starve for originality, which has often led us to non sense, isn't efficient when it comes to the work of someone who first became imbued with China's traditional pictorial rules before surpassing them.

As one of the branches of the artistic concept of authenticity, being “true to yourself” is certainly one of the main components of an artist's work. Thus, our speech aims to show how Daqian's work can be seen as a powerful illustration of a painter's never ending quest to self-authenticity.

HUGUET, Bérangère

As a history of art graduate from Université de Strasbourg, BérangèreHuguet chose to specialize in book publishing business. She both design and wrote several art books, on both Chinese and Western ancient and contemporary art. As a young researcher, she worked alongside with Sammy Schott-Fontaine for several years for a major franco-chinese cooperation bureau in both China and Europe. Her major publication yet, a two-volumes about Chinese art history written alongside with Sammy Schott-Fontaine, titled Lines will be released in 2017.