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BLOG   ·  June 30, 2020

Lang Jingshan: Chinese photographic pioneer

Lang Jingshan, Pavilion in Fairyland

Lang Jingshan, Pavilion in Fairyland, 1955, gelatin silver print. Collection of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan. © Taipei Fine Arts Museum.⁣

In MOPA’s Out of the Shadows: Contemporary Chinese Photography, the Museum presents the first major American show to include Chinese photographic pioneer Lang Jingshan.

Called the “Father of Asian Photography,” Lang was a self-taught photographer who began his career in 1920s Shanghai. In the early 1930s, Lang developed his signature pictorialist style which he called “composite photography.” ⁣

In his own words, Lang describes that composite photography is a technical solution to the problem of photographing in the style of Chinese painting.⁣⁣ It utilized combination-printing and other darkroom methods to assemble photographic fragments into seamless landscapes, still lifes, and portraits following the style of traditional Chinese painting.

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀      Lang Jingshan, Spring Trees                       Lang Jingshan, Riverside Spring

(Left) Lang Jingshan, Spring Trees, 1934, gelatin silver print. Collection of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan. © Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
(Right) Lang Jingshan, Riverside Spring, 1934, gelatin silver print. Collection of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan. © Taipei Fine Arts Museum.⁣

Lang’s work demonstrates that Chinese artists have long advanced the pictorial qualities of photography by drawing inspiration from their own culture.⁣ As a teenager studying in Shanghai, Lang received training in Chinese painting but fell in love with the camera instead. ⁣

See how thousands of years of pictorial traditions continue to influence the arts today. Step into Out of the Shadows: Contemporary Chinese Photography through January 2021 at MOPA. The show also includes work by artists Hong Lei, Shi Guorui, Yang Fudong and others.

 

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Check out more photography resources, including our Photo 101 video on Symbolism in Contemporary Chinese Photography.

 

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