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Yan Han (彦涵)

Yan Han (1916-2011) was from Nianyuan, Jiangsu Province. He studied Chinese and Western painting at the Hangzhou Art Academy. After the outbreak of the anti-Japanese war, he went to Yan'an where entered the Lu Xun Academy in 1938 to learn woodblock printing. In 1939, Yan went to the Taihang Mountains where he created woodcuts at the Eighth Army Headquarters. He moreover created many propaganda prints, "new" New Year pictures, cartoon strips and wallposters.

Develop dynamiting in the militia, 1944 (repr.)

Develop dynamiting in the militia, 1944 (reprint)

After 1949, Yan was involved with most of the major campaigns, including land reform and the War in Korea. In 1951 he was appointed to teach art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he established the Printmaking Department. As an activist, he was liable to become the victim of policy shifts. By 1957, during the Anti-Rightist Movement, Yan was (mistakenly) branded as a rightist, and was sent to the countryside the following year.

Yan is mainly known as a woodcut artist. Since the 1980s his style has turned to abstraction.

Sources:

Beijing yuyan xueyuan Zhongguo yishujia cidian bianweihui, Zhongguo yishujia cidian -- Xiandai diyi fence (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe, 1981) [in Chinese]

Michael Sullivan, Modern Chinese Artists - A Biographical Dictionary (Berkeley, etc: University of California Press, 2006)

Shelagh Vainker and Weimin He, Chinese Prints 1950-2006 in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2007)

Iris Wachs and Chang Tsong-zung, Half a Century of Chinese Woodblock Prints - From the Communist Revolution to the Open-Door Policy and Beyond (The Museum of Art Ein Harod, 1999)

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