Li Keran (李可染)

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likeranLi Keran (1907-1989) was born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. His artistic education started in 1929 when he entered the Research Section of the Hangzhou State Xihu Art College. He learned oil painting from the famous French artist Corroto. In 1931, he joined the 'August One Art Association', which was disbanded by the Guomindang government. After the Japanese invasion, Li eventually arrived in Chongqing, where he worked under Zhou Enlai in the wartime propaganda effort. He worked as a teacher at the Beiping State Art Institute from 1946 on, and for more than ten years studied traditional Chinese painting with masters such as Qi Baishi and Huang Binhong. He was appointed as a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1949.

As an expert in landscape painting, Li made great contributions to the reform of traditional Chinese landscape painting. At the same time, during periods of political upheaval such as the Cultural Revolution, he was prosecuted precisely because his expertise was seen as out of touch with the political demands of the moment.

Important Art of New China 1949-1979 (China Guardian Auction Catalogue 1997, Beijing)

Julia F. Andrews, Painters and Politics in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)

Chen Lusheng, Xin Zhongguo meishu tushi - 1949-1966 [The Art History of the People's Republic of China - 1949-1966] (Beijing: Zhongguo qingnian chubanshe, 2000) [in Chinese]

Kuiyi Shen, "Publishing Posters Before the Cultural Revolution", Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 12:2 (2000), 177-202

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

Zhongguo meishuguan (ed.), 中国美术年鉴 1949-1989 (Guilin: Guangxi meishu chubanshe, 1993)

Li Keran Art Foundation website -

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