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This Just in from the Richmond Hill Historical Society

“Join us on Sunday, October 9, 2022, for a tribute to Wang TingQi, a famous and esteemed Chinese artist who was born in Changzhou, China in 1913 and came to the US in 1944 to study arts with government sponsorship. He was the dean of the arts department at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts between 1946 and 1951. After that he designed and created more than 100 artistic stage sets. The following is a summary from a biography of Wang TingQi (1913-1977):”

Professor Wang TingQi’s talent was evident at an early age, and he was admitted to the best schools and the National Art College. He taught at the National Central University and Chongqing University becoming close friends with some of the most famous artists in China. In 1942 he was recognized as one of China’s most hopeful and promising painters. In 1943, China’s Ministry of Education sought to recruit the country’s most talented individuals for international educational exchange and development. Only one spot was available for artists and that sole spot was awarded to Wang TingQi.

From 1944 to 1946, Wang TinqQi traveled to the United States to study, first at the Chicago Art Institute and then at Yale University graduate school for his MFA degree. After WWII, he returned to China at the invitation of the President of China’s premier art society in order to promote western art in China. Together with other famous artists, they introduced post-impressionism western art to China. For this, Wang TingQi was appointed both the provost of the Shanghai Fine Art Academy and the Department Chair of art and design.

When the People’s Republic of China was established in the 1950’s, Mr. Wang TingQi also happened to start his personal renaissance, entering his peak period of originality and creation. Since 1951, his works of art have been displayed in the National Art Exhibition. His paintings “Zhongshan Park” and “Chick” were published in a national collection of watercolor paintings, bringing his artistic achievements and fame to a new level. Then in 1951, he was appointed to become one of five chairmen to the Shanghai Artists Association.

To develop China’s first official stage art and design major, Wang TingQi was transferred to the Shanghai Theater Academy where he was the founder of stage design major in China. He developed, designed and produced stage art scenes for over 100 dramas. Together with his friends Liu Haisu and Pan Tianshou, they became the leading figures in the history of Chinese modern art and design, bringing fresh vitality to a then old Chinese aesthetic. In 1955, Wang TingQi was one of two representatives sent to participate in the Beijing “Maximo expert class.” In 1966, Wang TingQi participated in the national Optimization Education Symposium where former Soviet Union art experts were invited. In 1958, the Shanghai Theater Academy published Wang TingQi’s “The Stage Painting Reference Materials” which became China’s first related subject material, reprinted again in 1964 by the China Academy of Theater. This period was the golden age of his life where he experienced the most prosperous creations and became the leading figure in promoting the development of the new art movement and modern art education in China. Unfortunately, after his death in 1977, his talent, once full of ideals and artistic visions was extinguished and the majority of his previous works of art were destroyed in the political waves of chaos.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wang TingQi’s birth in 2014, all his close friends and family in addition with the community’s effort collected many of his long-lost sketches and works of art from the Cultural Revolution. Together these sketches and works of art were compiled and published in a new Wang TingQi art album and finally displayed in his hometown, the Museum of Wujin at Wang TingQi’s retrospective art exhibition. In fact, this retrospective art exhibition proves that even under extreme persecution and tensions, Wang TingQi’s unyielding will to create art proves the strength of the artist’s resolve.

To this date, his works of art have been featured across the United States and are in the collections of famous institutions including Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities in addition to dozens of other well-known universities and museums. History will eventually prove and reward a genius artist who has now been left for the human spirit and society to admire.

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