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  The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection of Chinese Painting 13th November - 12th May 2002

The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection of modern Chinese painting is one of the most important in the West. It has never been shown publicly before. The collection includes over 100 works by 20thC Chinese artists, many shown to Western eyes for the first time.

It belongs to Prof. Michael Sullivan, the renowned scholar of Chinese art, and his wife Khoan, who have been collecting for over 60 years. The works complement those in the Ashmolean, which -- perhaps surprisingly --holds one of the best collections of modern Chinese painting in Europe.

Nearly fifty works will be on show in Part I - gathered from those collected by the Sullivans between the 1940s and 70s. (In May 2002, Part 2 will show works they acquired from 1980 to the present.) The paintings and graphics in the first show will be in a range of styles and techniques from the traditional Chinese to the Western semi-abstract. These are by artists who confronted not only the ideology of their own art - the conflict between Western influence and tradition - but also their country's politics. Well-known artists such as Pang Xunqin (1906-85), Wu Guanzhong (b1919) and Huang Yongyu (b.1924) were refugees from the Japanese in WWII, and later suffered severely in the era of Mao Zedong (1949 - 76). Others were forced to seek freedom abroad.

Prof. Michael Sullivan published (in 1959) the first book on Chinese twentieth century art. This and numerous subsequent publications have made him the foremost authority in the West.

"Khoan and I never set out to be collectors" he writes. "The Chinese tend to look on works of art not only as precious in themselves, but as symbols of friendship. Over the years we have been given paintings, prints and drawings by a huge variety of artists, many of them our friends. It is only recently that we have bought additions to the collection."

The exhibition will be held in the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery at the Ashmolean, which opened last year.

  Image: Liu Kuo-Sung, Abstract Landscape 1966
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Last updated: jcm/27-feb-2002
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