Archive for 'Shanghai'

New Year, Old Gift


image courtesy of ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive

As much as I’d like to give you red envelopes stuffed with cash (for the whippersnappers, of course–red envelopes are traditionally given to those younger than yourself), I’m a little broke right now.

Instead, for your Lunar New Year gift, I will give you the first Chinese feature-length animated film, Princess Iron Fan (Tie Shan Gong Zhu).

This 1941 film by the pioneering Wan brothers came out of the Xinhua Film Company, a feat in itself, as Shanghai was under Japanese occupation at the time. Xinhua may have been one of the last of the Shanghai studios to hold out against occupying force’s business interests, but was eventually merged with Japanese-controlled studios.

The details of the film are charmingly Fleischer-esque, and for those familiar with Chinese epics you’ll know that film is based on an episode from Journey to the West. When the film was screened in Japan, a young Tezuka saw it and it influenced him greatly.

Here’s a preview on youtube–but you can watch the film in its entirety at the Internet Archive.

We hope to see you all for this Sunday’s Lunar New Year Celebration!

Shanghai update

Whew! Our first week of installation for Shanghai is over, and week two is about to begin. All of the objects have arrived safely and the galleries are beginning to really take shape. The exhibition crew has been busy condition checking artwork, hanging paintings, dressing mannequins, and dealing with all of the assorted surprises that emerge with a project of this complexity. Here a few behind the scenes images from the past week.


A detail of the neon tube components of Shen Fan's installation "Landscape—Commemorating Huang Binhong—Small Scroll."

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Poll: Your favorite Shanghai era

[polldaddy poll=2608818]

The museum’s Shanghai exhibition is organized into four main time periods. One of the themes that runs through the show concerns the attitudes to women expressed in Shanghai art. These four images of women will give a taste — but only a taste, since in each period the range of artistic activity is of course much wider than these images suggest — of the various phases in Shanghai’s artistic development. Asking you to name a favorite is a little silly, like asking what’s your favorite color, as if you would want everything in the world to be green or whatever; still, suppose you only had a few minutes to catch the show — which section would you head for?

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Shanghai sneak peek – Qipao


From behind the scenes of Shanghai, stylish qipao from the Shanghai History Museum are unpacked for condition checking. A total of five of these body-hugging garments, featuring rich fabrics and art deco inspired motifs, are included in the “High Times” section of the exhibition. First worn by fashionable women in Shanghai during the 1920s and 1930s, the distinctive qipao remains popular today.

The perfect soup dumpling

A while ago, I talked about my experience of eating a notable Shanghai delicacy called xiao long bao. Here’s a video of Andrea Nguyen, chef and author of Asian Dumplings, as she talks about the process of making this dish and what she considers the perfect xiao long bao at Shanghai Dumpling King. (short commercial at beginning of video)

Shanghai remodeling

With Shanghai right around the corner, museum preparation staff have been busy reconfiguring the museum in ways we haven’t quite seen before.

Objects selected  for Shanghai include not only the 2-D paintings and works on paper that visitors might expect, but a wide variety of furniture, textile arts, video works, and contemporary installations by leading Shanghai artists. This variety of object types can be a challenge for our designer. In particular, the museum’s existing gallery spaces were not originally designed to fit contemporary installation art or to display video art.

As a result, various spaces around the museum have been receiving substantial Shanghai makeovers.


Windows to north court are covered with new walls to create additional display space.

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Shanghai web materials

Blog readers who are interested in our Shanghai show, which opens February 12, should keep an eye on the Shanghai exhibition web page, which is the central hub for all of our Shanghai materials. There are several things already up, and more will follow soon.

Today Nico supplied a reading list from the standpoint of a retail book specialist (as distinguished from a curator’s bibliography, which would likely be somewhat different). Nico is well informed and her judgment is sound, so this list would be an excellent starting point for learning about Shanghai. A portion of the page is shown above (click the image to see the rest).

The show spans the history of Shanghai, from its mid-nineteenth century treaty port days to the present.

a new neighbor?

Public art: love it or hate it, you can’t deny that it provokes a lively public debate (and a lot of name-calling on SFist or Craigslist).

Personally, I’m looking forward to the possibility of seeing this in our front yard.

You may remember Zhang Huan as the cover boy for Britta Erickson’s exhibition and catalog of the same name, On the Edge: Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter the West.

Zhang Huan, My New York

Zhang Huan, My New York

Splitting his time between New York and Shanghai, Zhang’s work is dynamic and physically demanding.  Although trained as a painter, his oeuvre is largely comprised of rigorous performances and monumental sculpture, the latter of which is no less challenging.  In this instance, the artwork may prove too heavy for the Civic Center Garage, which is housed beneath the expanse of the plaza.

Whether the piece will make it remains to be seen; however, there’s no denying that the Buddha would be a nice addition to the roster of exhibition-and-expo-related events that are taking over the city for the rest of the year.

The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai is a classic noir film, released in 1947, starring Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. It’s melodramatic but probably not quite as straightforwardly so as this trailer suggests. It doesn’t have much to do with Shanghai, but the title no doubt carried connotations of sexuality and decadence that American audiences of the period associated with that city.

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Shanghai film clips

My homework this week is scanning old Chinese movies for interesting clips of Shanghai for possible screening in the exhibition. The exhibition curator Michael Knight was given a stack of DVDs from a Chinese contact with permission to use. (I think they are all in the public domain).

乌鸦与麻雀 / Crows and Sparrows poster (1949)

乌鸦与麻雀 / Crows and Sparrows poster (1949)

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