CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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



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.


As a layer, art historian and Science Po Strasbourg graduate polyglot, Sammy Schott-Fontaine chose to specialize in art dealing business. Ensuring the availability of art both in terms of art mediation and art selling has always been is motto. Alongside with BérangèreHuguet, he worked for several years in a major franco-chinese cooperation bureau in both China and Europe. Both his Christian upbringing and ancient Chinese philosophy taught him special work ethic that allowed him to successfully conduct a vast array of tasks, such as co-writing a two-volumes about Chinese art history written alongside with Bérangère Huguet, titled Lines will be released in 2017.