As we mark the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the China Central Institute for Culture and History is also celebrating the 70th anniversary of its establishment. This exhibition is being held to display the important achievements in the field of painting and calligraphy of members of the institute over the past 70 years. Itnot only pays homage to past masters and reviews the original intention of building the institute, but also calls on and unites members to continue their efforts to ensure calligraphy and painting develop and flourish in the new era under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee.
Asan initiative of Chairman Mao Zedong, the State Council of the Central People’s Government established the Institute of Culture and History (later renamed the China Central Institute for Culture and History in 1954) in 1951. Premier Zhou Enlai personally selected Jingxinzhai in Beijing’s Beihai Park as its site. Dong Biwu delivered a speech at the inaugural meeting of the institute on behalf of the Central People’s Government. Fu Dingyi, a former teacher of Chairman Mao Zedong, was the first director. Ye Gongchuo, Liu Yazi and Zhang Shizhao were vice-directors. There were 26 members employed in the early stages. From 1952, all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government together witha handful of provincial cities also set up institutes for culture and history. The main function of these institutes is to organize their members to conduct cultural and historical research, create artistic works, lead consultations on national affairs, carry out united front work and other activities.
Over the past 70 years, a large number of figures in the cultural field with great virtue, talent and reputation have been appointed as directors, vicedirectors and members of the central and local institutes for culture and history. Among them are numerous painters and calligraphers, the majority nationally or locally renowned artists, such as Qi Baishi, Chen Banding, Shen Yinmo, Qi Gong, Pu Xuezhai, Liu Kuiling, Liu Zijiu, Qian Juntao, Lu Yanshao, Xiao Longshi, Chen Baiyi, Chen Zizhuang, Liu Zhibai, and Liu Wenxi.
The 184 exhibits on display are mainly paintings and calligraphy works of successive directors, vice directors and members collected by the central and local institutes for culture and history since their establishment. These works are the achievements of painters and calligraphers from different historical periods, with their innovative creations immersed in daily life, representing the highest level of painting and calligraphy from all stages of the 70-year history of their institutions.
In terms of time span and geographical breadth, this exhibition aims to provide a general impression of the members’ paintings and calligraphy across the country over the past 70 years. However, due to the limited scale of the exhibition, it inevitably omits many great artists and their works. We have regretfully failed to collect the works of certain famous members as they passed away many years ago. Yet, the works of some famous painters and calligraphers from outside the institutes serve as great supplements to the exhibition. Although they were not appointed as members, they have close ties with institutes of culture and history as teachers or students of certain members. The display of their works was made possible with the strong support of the Beijing Fine Art Academy, the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts and other institutions.