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Building nation and self through the other : two exhibitions of Chinese painting in Paris, 19331977

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Museum Exhibits -- Political Aspects -- France -- Paris
  • Art Museums -- Exhibitions -- France -- Paris
  • Ethnocentrism -- France -- Paris
  • Painting
  • Chinese -- Appreciation -- France -- Paris


This thesis investigates Western exhibition practices and the problems that arise when they involve cross-cultural encounters. Two exhibitions of Chinese painting in Paris that were co-planned by French curators and Chinese artists will serve as case studies in this regard. The first exhibition is Exposition de la peinture chinoise held at the Musee du Jeu de Paume in 1933. The second show is Quatre artistes chinoises contemporaines held at the Musee Cernuschi in 1977. Using archival material, I will reconstruct the planning of the exhibitions and reveal diverging French and Chinese agendas. An examination of the press reviews of the two shows will demonstrate that location is key in the public reception of an exhibition. The analysis of the encounter of self and other underlying the two exhibitions will lead to a probing of Western exhibition practices and bring issues of power, authenticity and identity-making to the fore.

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