Organized Panel Session
Although the Cold War period was a “difficult era” for the world, as geopolitical relations became more and more complex, new possibilities emerged within the enclosed space of the Socialist bloc. This paper will bring a new perspective to the discussion of East Asian art that emerged during this period by focusing on the artistic exchanges between China and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Shortly after the end of WWII, the two countries started to build close cooperation in many spheres, including a lively cultural exchange. A very special situation thus occurred: despite the general tightening of conditions in many areas, there were paradoxically more opportunities for collection-building or travel for study or to gain experience. This paper will elaborate on several case studies of delegations of cultural workers who journeyed between the two countries with the aim of establishing cooperation or acquiring artworks for the newly founded Collection of East Asian Art in the National Gallery in Prague. Further, it will discuss details of the Chinese governmental gift of nearly 300 objects that would become the foundation of the young collection of Chinese art in Prague. Finally, it will shed light on individual exchanges of artists travelling from China to the countries of the Eastern bloc - such as Li Keran, Guan Liang, and Fu Baoshi - and Czechoslovak artists who travelled to China, such as the graphic artist and cartoonist Adolf Hoffmeister.