A Modern Miscellany

Shanghai Cartoon Artists, Shao Xunmei’s Circle and the Travels of Jack Chen, 1926-1938


Author: Paul Bevan
In A Modern Miscellany: Shanghai Cartoon Artists, Shao Xunmei’s Circle and the Travels of Jack Chen, 1926-1938 Paul Bevan explores how the cartoon (manhua) emerged from its place in the Chinese modern art world to become a propaganda tool in the hands of left-wing artists. The artists involved in what was largely a transcultural phenomenon were an eclectic group working in the areas of fashion and commercial art and design. The book demonstrates that during the build up to all-out war the cartoon was not only important in the sphere of Shanghai popular culture in the eyes of the publishers and readers of pictorial magazines but that it occupied a central place in the primary discourse of Chinese modern art history.

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Paul Bevan, Ph.D (SOAS, 2013), has taught Chinese history and modern Chinese literature at SOAS and the University of Oxford. His wide-ranging research interests include the impact of Western art and literature on China during the Republican period and the study of inscriptions on eighteenth-century art objects.
"The book supports its two arguments through exhaustive engagement with primary sources, drawn mainly from an impressive array of newspapers and pictorial magazines, both English and Chinese, as well as letters and other ephemera from multiple archives. A Modern Miscellany does an excellent job of fact-checking biographical detail on China’s cartoonists and their associates. [...] With its careful scholarship and respect for historical accuracy, A Modern Miscellany helps lay a foundation for many years of manhua research to come."
John A Crespi, Colgate University, MCLC Resource Center, August 2016

"This volume is a major contribution to modern Chinese studies in general. That is because it traces the ideological development
of Shanghai artists and writers, who were the avant-garde of the whole country, from the aestheticism of Shao Xunmei to the leftist activism of Lu Xun. In this respect, Shanghai’s literati, unusual though they were, might be seen as a microcosm of Chinese society at the time. Furthermore, the book is relevant to current cross-cultural studies, since it is mainly about how Chinese artists adapted European sources to their own needs and styles at a time when China was trying to forge a modern identity. Finally, anyone interested in the place and time will appreciate Bevan’s reconstruction of its art scene and the interrelations of the characters in it."
Hal Swindall, Jinan University, China Review International, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2015

"I owe a great debt to academics and Sinologists…now add Paul Bevan to the list…a fantastic new book on old Shanghai”
Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking (2011) and City of Devils (2018).
Note on the Illustrations
List of Illustrations
Notes on Romanization and References
Notes on Sources

A Modern Miscellany
The Cartoon as Part of the Modern Art Scene in Shanghai
The Manhuahu

Part 1: The Beginnings of the Modern Chinese Cartoon
Chapter 1: Manhua Artists in Shanghai
Marc Chadourne and Paul Morand
Vanity Fair
Western Models of Art and Literature in Shanghai manhua
English Decadence in Shanghai
The Modern and the Decadent—The Cubist Shanghai Life, Lust, and Snake and Woman

Chapter 2: Shao Xunmei and his Circle
Shao Xunmei and Pictorial Magazines
Shao Xunmei and Salon Culture
The Yunshang Fashion Company
The Zhang Brothers—Designers
A Depiction of Shao Xunmei by Wang Zimei
A Letter to Emily Hahn

Part 2: Adoption of Foreign Models in Art and Literature
Chapter 3: Miguel Covarrubias
Covarrubias Goes to China: 1930
Covarrubias Goes to China Again: 1933
Covarrubias’s Illustrations to Chine (China)
Chinese Artists and the Covarrubias Style
“Impossible Interviews”
Large-scale Group Caricatures
Ding Cong and the Mexican Muralists
The Legacy of Covarrubias

Chapter 4: The Chinese Cartoonists and George Grosz
The Art of George Grosz in Shanghai
George Grosz and China
Proponents of the “Grosz-style”
A Foreigner’s View of the Grosz Imitators
Cai Ruohong: China’s “New Grosz”?
The Chinese View of Grosz’s Work

Part 3: The Dissemination of Chinese Political Art

Chapter 5: Jack Chen in China
Chen Arrives in Shanghai
The Cartoons of Jack Chen in Shanghai
Chen and Soviet Socialist Realism
The Letters of Jack Chen
From China to Moscow and London: The Beginnings of Chen’s World Tour
Anthony Blunt: A Champion of Chen’s Cause

Chapter 6: The First National Cartoon Exhibition
A Suitable Venue: The Sun Company Building
The Exhibition
News in the Shanghai Press
Jack Chen: The Only Foreign Exhibitor
Portraiture: A Genre for Political Persuasion?
The Paintings of Hua Lu: Lacking a Political Message?
Surrealism: Modern Art and the Manhua Artists
Cai Ruohong Remembers
Foreigners on Manhua: Two Contrasting Views
A Review by Jack Chen
An Anonymous Critique
Zhang Guangyu’s Cover Design for Manhuajie
Manhua: An Art for China’s Future

Chapter 7: Chinese Art and its Part in the Worldwide Fight against Fascism
Hong Kong: First Port of Call
Guangzhou: Caught in the Air Raids
Chen is Sent to Europe and America
Hu Kao: A Shanghai Cartoonist
Hu Kao and Jack Chen go to Yan’an
Hong Kong: Last Port of Call

All interested in the history of modern art and literature in Republican China, the history of pictorial magazines and the transcultural nature of the arts in China in the 1920s and 1930s.