Wu Shujuan: an architect of cultural innovation or a traditionalist conservative?
Keywords:Wu Shujuan, innovation, Confucianism, traditionalist, filial piety
AbstractWu Shujuan was a Chinese female painter working in the tradition of the masters, whose works were predicated upon the ideological framework of Confucianism and yet managed to incorporate the heterogeneity of the emerging modern China. She broke into the genre of the male preserve of observational landscape painting and introduced Chinese art to the world’s art collectors, utilising new innovations in quality printing. This article makes an estimate as to where the balance lies between Wu as a moderniser and innovator and Wu as a traditionalist and conservative. In engaging in this study I employ a methodology based on analyses of: gender roles; the nature of the Chinese gentry; the resonance of Confucian norms and values; the emergence of a Chinese bourgeoisie and the consequent growth of the art market; and the emergence of modernity in the discourse of the emergent Republic of China. I conclude that Wu Shujuan was cultural reformist who sought changes within the existing framework of norms and values that were integral to the Chinese gentry’s way of life.
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