Grandmaster: Huang Binhong

In the history of modern Chinese painting, there is a saying that goes “Northern Qi and Southern Huang”. “Northern Qi” refers to the Chinese painting master Qi Baishi, while “Southern Huang” refers to the landscape painter and painting theorist Huang Binhong.

Grandmaster: Huang Binhong Photo 2

Huang Binhong’s 1955 work “Small Scenery of Nangao Peak” 黄宾虹《南高峰小景》1955作

In the history of modern Chinese painting, there is a saying that goes “Northern Qi and Southern Huang”. “Northern Qi” refers to the Chinese painting master Qi Baishi, while “Southern Huang” refers to the landscape painter and painting theorist Huang Binhong. They both belong to the same era. But back then, Qi Baishi’s paintings could sell for several tens of yuan, while Huang Binhong’s paintings couldn’t even be given away. Before his death, Huang Binhong predicted to his friends, “50 years after my death, my paintings will become lively.” Sure enough, 40 years after his immortal death, the “Huang Binhong fever” quietly rose. In 2014, his 1955 film “Nangaofeng Xiaojing” was sold for 62.675 million yuan in the Jiade Spring auction.

Native of Anhui, born in Zhejiang

Huang Binhong (1865-1955), a native of the late Qing Dynasty, was born in Tan Du Village, Shexian County, Anhui Province. He was born in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province. His name was Pucun, and his title was Binhong. January 27, 1865 (the first day of the first month of the fourth year of Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty) he was born in Jinhua city Tieling Tou, was born at the time of “one night even two years old, five more points two years”, so Huang Binhong in his “Eighty comments” there are: “I was born in the year of Yigchou, Pense is still a son. I know that spring is late, and I fall to the earth when I am old.”

Grandmaster: Huang Binhong Photo 4

Huang Binhong

Huang Binhong’s father was a Huizhou merchant, so his family was wealthy when he was young. Also, due to the Huizhou merchants being good at Confucianism and collecting famous sites. So when Huang Binhong was young, his father hired a private school teacher at home to teach him “Zihui”, “Shuowen”, and “Four Books and Five Classics”, laying a solid foundation for his traditional Chinese studies. My father is also good at calligraphy and painting, making it easy to collect. Huang Binhong started drawing with a pen at the age of 4, and at the age of 6, he was able to vividly copy the landscape book of Shen Tingrui (Zunya) in his family’s collection. In the 12th year of the Guangxu reign of the Qing Dynasty (1886), Huang Binhong was a tribute student who studied painting landscapes by painter Zheng Shan and painting flowers and birds by Chen Ruoshui. During this period, he also enjoyed the mountains and persisted in sketching from life.

At the age of 26, Huang Binhong went back to her hometown, Shexian County, to make ink with her father. By coincidence, he was able to learn Confucian classics from Wang Zongyi, a famous scholar and a well-known staff member of Li Hongzhang. Later, when Huang Binhong was helping the descendants of the great Qing dynasty painter Huang Zhenmin sort out his collection of famous paintings, he saw many authentic works from the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties. He took them home and carefully copied any that he could borrow. Through these persistent imitations, Huang Binhong gradually integrated the delicacy of the Song Dynasty’s court style, the charm of the Yuan Dynasty’s calligraphy, and the hardness of the Ming Dynasty’s calligraphy into her own paintings.

Making friends with Tan Sitong, achieving success and retiring

One of Huang Binhong’s greatest hobbies throughout his life was calligraphy and painting, but he was not a typical landscape painting master. When he was young, he dated Tan Sitong and became a literary friend. When Tan Sitong went south to recruit talents for the Reform and Reform, Huang Binhong decisively participated, hoping to use this opportunity to save the country and promote reform and innovation.
Later, Tan Sitong was killed, and Huang Binhong was deeply saddened. At the same time, due to his close relationship with Tan Sitong, he was reported by local people and had to flee overnight to Hangzhou and Jinhua. Finally, he arrived in Shanghai and lived a life of turmoil and escape. In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, the Eight Nation Alliance captured Beijing, and Empress Dowager Cixi fled to the west. The Xinchou Treaty, which humiliated the country, was signed, and the Qing government had no time to attend to the remnants of the Reform Party. Huang Binhong was able to return to her hometown and organized the “Huang Society” in her own “Huaide Hall” to study poetry and literature while secretly promoting revolutionary ideas. He was still secretly minting coins to raise funds for revolutionary activities, which almost led to imprisonment.

Grandmaster: Huang Binhong Photo 6

Huang Binhong’s Former Residence
In October 1911, the Xinhai Revolution broke out, and Huang Binhong participated in the Shanghai Commercial Uprising. However, after the victory of the Xinhai Revolution, Yuan Shikai’s restoration of the imperial system left him disheartened. Afterwards, he did not choose to become an official and worked successively in newspapers, bookstores, etc., engaged in news and art editing, and education work. According to Wang Zhongxiu’s statistics, between 1907 and 1937, Huang Binhong wrote over 1100 articles on the study of ancient Chinese art history, which were published in magazines such as Oriental Magazine and National Essence Monthly, which were opposed to the New Youth hosted by Chen Duxiu. These publications and research work have brought Huang Binhong a wide social reputation.
Afterwards, Huang Binhong’s focus shifted from editing and publishing to teaching and research, and she successively held some teaching positions. He believes that the art of calligraphy and painting, which embodies the basic humanistic spirit of the Chinese nation, should be upheld and promoted, seeking to explore and innovate within the system, and then seeking to use “spiritual civilization” to save “the sinking of the human heart” and solve the cultural crisis that social revolution has not solved. His proposition originated from art but aims to save the country.
After the September 18 Incident, the cultural relics of the Forbidden City were relocated to the south. Huang Binhong also serves as a member of the Palace Museum Antiquities Appraisal Committee to carefully review and register the national treasures of the Palace Museum. During this period, he reviewed over 150 paintings every day, identified more than 4000 calligraphy and painting works in the Forbidden City, and made records of all of them – “Huang Binhong’s Palace Painting Review Record”.

Grandmaster: Huang Binhong Photo 8

A photocopy of Huang Binhong’s manuscript on the Palace Museum Painting Review Record, as well as Wang Zhongxiu’s interpretation of the manuscript and sample.

Opening an art exhibition, eventually meeting a close friend

In 1944, Huang Binhong held an art exhibition in Shanghai, and only one person bought his paintings. Huang Binhong was so excited that she felt like she had finally met her best friend and sent him many pictures in a row. This person is Fu Lei, 43 years younger than Huang Binhong, and is a well-known foreign literary translator and literary critic.
In 1932, Fu Lei pointed out in his book “The Panic of Modern Chinese Art” that the state of modern Chinese art is “neither genuine emotions nor solid techniques.”. Fu Lei’s comments on art can be described as unique. He said that Bai Shi still dislikes reading too little and not being exposed to tradition enough. He only worships until Jin Dongxin; I don’t like Liu Haisu, saying that his traditional Chinese painting is a wild fox Zen; I don’t like Zhang Daqian and say he is a speculator on the other side. His greatest skill in life is to fake Shi Tao, but he is a top-notch and top-notch expert; He even criticized Xu XX for not entering the door of traditional Chinese painting and turning a blind eye (later speculated to be Xu Beihong). But in 1935, Fu Lei was overjoyed to see Huang Binhong’s paintings.
After this art exhibition, Fu Lei repeatedly purchased paintings from Huang Binhong, showing great love for them. He even wrote to Huang Binhong, saying, “The strokes and ink strokes are different, resulting in different realms: lush and lush, like ancient style, containing elegance and elegance, like quatrain and small instructions. The beauty lies in the vastness and complexity, the small frames may not be simple, and there is still a sense of vitality floating in the old age. The lines dance freely and freely, with two or three strokes reaching tens of millions of words. This is truly breathtaking.”. He commented on Huang Binhong, who was widely accepted and learned. He did not belong to one school, but immersed himself in the Tang and Song dynasties. He gathered the essence of all the schools in the past and formed his own face.
However, in 1952 after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Huang Binhong’s paintings began to increase in price, at 1 yuan per piece, while Qi Baishi’s paintings cost 4 yuan per square foot; Wu Zuoren’s Runge is 5 yuan per square foot. In 1977, Wang Xuetao’s painting was priced at 20 yuan per square foot, Huang Binhong’s student Li Keran’s painting was priced at 25 yuan per square foot, and Huang Binhong’s painting was priced at 1 yuan per piece. But who could have imagined that the 2017 Spring Auction of China Guardian, Huang Binhong’s late work “Mount Huangshan Soup Mouth”, started at a high price of 72 million yuan and ended at 300 million yuan!

Grandmaster: Huang Binhong Photo 10

Huang Binhong’s Mount Huangshan Soup Mouth was written in 1955
Regarding Huang Binhong’s landscape painting creation, His disciple Wang Bomin said: Huang Binhong’s maturity, in terms of his brushstrokes and ink, has occurred twice. The first time was between the ages of 50 and 70. At this time, maturity was due to his understanding of traditional landscapes and his familiarity with ancient paintings. Therefore, during this period, his works almost had their origins in brushstrokes, and even his writing style was praised by some as a type of Lu Tai style, also known as’ Bai Binhong ‘; the second maturity was between the ages of 80 and his passing. It was the maturity that was born from maturity, and if there are any reviews, that gave birth to maturity It is believed that in Huang Lao’s paintings, there are old faces and the paintings are not like the past. The more they are painted, the thicker they are painted, and the more they are painted, the more ink they are painted, which is also known as the ‘Black Bin Rainbow’ “Heibinhong” is Huang Binhong’s unique aesthetic in his later years, and it is also the landscape and atmosphere he pursues.
It is difficult to calculate how many paintings Huang Binhong has painted throughout her life. When he passed away in 1955, his paintings were still lonely. His family, according to his last wish, donated more than 1000 pieces of his collection of books, calligraphy and painting, rubbings of gold and stone, as well as his own calligraphy and painting, manuscripts, etc. However, after several twists and turns, the Zhejiang Museum reluctantly accepted them. It was not until 30 years after Huang Binhong’s death that those lost paintings in the corners were able to be seen again and truly showcase their value!
Huang Binhong has experienced many historical changes in his life. He insisted on studying during the war. Painting, calligraphy, seal cutting, poetry and poetry are his lifelong companions. He also has a large number of academic works, including A Study of the Origin of Mount Huangshan Painters, A Discussion on Honglu Paintings, Ancient Paintings, Painting Studies, An Outline of the History of Chinese Painting, The Seal of Binhong Thatched Cottage, and Quotations of Huang Binhong Paintings. He co edited the Art Series with Deng Shi.
Regarding learning painting, Huang Binhong once said, “To learn painting, you first need to learn characters. Why? Figure painting requires accuracy. If you draw a long nose, you will become a foreign devil, unlike Chinese people. When drawing a tree, the length of the tree is not a big problem. The best way to practice accuracy is to learn to paint. Secondly, learn flowers, which have colors and are the most beautiful. Thirdly, it is important to learn landscape painting.”
Regarding copying, Huang Binhong mentioned in his “A Brief History of Ancient Paintings” that “when ancient painters painted, they all had profound meanings. When thinking and writing, each had their own master.” Here, “the master” refers to the ancient painter’s teaching and inheritance of their predecessors. By copying a large number of classic works from ancient people, Huang Binhong summarized that: first, copy Yuan paintings, and use their pens and ink well; The second copy of Ming painting, with its stable structure, is not easy to enter the underworld; Copy Tang paintings again, so that students can trace the past; Finally, copying Song paintings, with many variations in their techniques. For painting landscapes, one should have a sense of charm, for painting flowers and birds, one should have a sense of interest, and for painting characters, one should have both emotions and spirit. Drawing materials is all about heaven, earth, and people. Heaven is the name of mountains and rivers; The term “ground” refers to the feathers of flowers, plants, insects, and fish. When painting flowers and plants, they only have a similar shape but lack interest, which is paper flowers. The most complex aspect of painting is the distinction between men, women, and children, as well as between personality and good and evil.

Grandmaster: Huang Binhong Photo 12

Huang Binhong said in his book “The Painting Language of Binhong”: “Yao Xibao’s theory of poetry and literature must be truly evaluated fifty years later, and those who are criticized for their momentary grievances are not reliable. After fifty years, private friendships disappear, and those who discuss ancient times seek truth from facts and provide some protection. Only in painting can people truly understand Huang Binhong’s paintings and appreciate the unique landscape charm depicted by his brushstrokes.”, Feel the literary temperament he expresses, enjoy his elegant style, and also have a deep nostalgia for him.

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