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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Ink Landscape
Date: ca. 1950s
Medium: Ink on paper
Dimensions: Image: 26 5/8 x 16 7/8 inches (67.6 x 42.9 cm)
Credit Line: George and Mary Rockwell Collection
Object Number: 77.045
Label Text: Born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu, to illiterate parents, Li Keran excelled at art from an early age. In 1925, he graduated from Shanghai Art College and went on to postgraduate study in Western art at the National Art Academy in Hangzhou. Li painted propaganda art during the Sino-Japanese War, and in 1946 he was invited by Xu Beihong (1895–1953) to teach brush and ink painting at the Beiping National Art College. There he came into contact with Qi Baishi (1864–1957) and Huang Binhong (1865–1955), two of China’s most influential twentieth-century brush and ink painters.

This painting exemplifies Li’s experiment with the layered ink technique that in part was influenced by the late work of Huang Binhong. On the other hand, the use of backlighting and sidelighting in his mountains might be inspired by Rembrandt’s approach. Li’s black landscape painting marks a new beginning in Chinese landscape, but during the Cultural Revolution it was heavily criticized. Li continued to paint up until his death in 1989. ("Debating Art: Chinese Intellectuals at the Crossroads," curated by Yuhua Ding, with assistance by Elizabeth Emrich, and presented at the Johnson Museum February 2-July 8, 2018)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.