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PRINT April 1982

ABSTRACT BEAUTY—FRIEND OR ENEMY?

THE QUESTION OF ABSTRACT ART is the new topic of discussion nowadays in China’s art world. When I was a student in Paris in the ’40s, I saw many abstract paintings and greatly delighted in those of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró. I myself was not laboring in the fields of the “non-figurative” school. But did I “understand” what the painters were getting at? Not really. I just felt that the paintings were tightly structured and organized, that the juxtapositions of the shapes, lines, and colors were unusual and striking, often giving one an unexpected sense of recognition, and that they were very beautiful. At that same time I was still intoxicated by the works of Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh.

From the time when the Empress Ci Xi (1835–1908) closed the door on the West, the Chinese were out of touch with it. The May 4th Movement

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