Qian Juntao

Qian Juntao was born in 1906 in Tongxian, Zhejiang Province, China, and was a Chinese contemporary artist. Juntao became interested in the arts at an early age and had a variety of skills that included painting, seal engraving and calligraphy. He was undoubtedly inspired by Lu Xun, an influential Chinese artist that led the cultural revival and Shanghai-style Art Deco movement circa 1920. Juntao studied at Hangzhou Academy (now referred to as the China Academy of Art) and eventually became an artistic editor for an engineering company in Shanghai known as the Kaiming company. Juntao was largely successful and ended up designing cover designs for influential artists and important figures such as the aforementioned Lu Xun, as well as Guo Moruo and Mao Dun. He held many other positions as well such as the Vice President of Xiling Society of Seal Arts and was a member of the Shanghai Research institute of Culture and History.

Perhaps what Juntao was most known for was his intricate seals that were featured on his works. These seals, like most Chinese seals, were a type of signature that came in the form of a stamp that displayed the owner’s name, and Juntao’s were known to be intricate with long inscriptions. Juntao showed a mastery in creative seal-making in both relief carving and intaglio. His skills were not confined to just visual arts as he excelled in book design, music, and poetry and was a renowned essayist, publisher, and collector. There is a sharp contrast evident in his work and a notable shift as his style goes from flowing brushstrokes and ornate calligraphy to being influenced by the modernism and contemporary aspects of the Shanghai style or “Chinese deco” in 1920. Most of the factors that influenced modern design in China started off with the influence of traditional Chinese arts and crafts, and the artistic style of China was rooted in the traditionalism of the past. Later, these elements were combined with foreign influences–such as Russian Constructivism– to form a more contemporary, dynamic, and modern style in graphic design and fine art.

His art, like the works of most Chinese artists at the time, becomes much more graphic in nature with bold lines, color choices and experiments with typography. He was capable of both delicate and detailed paintings of flowers and nature as well as bold contemporary poster designs that were non-representational compared to his prior portrayals of natural scenes. He was often noted as a contributor and enthusiast of the book world, designing book covers and advertisements as well as holding the position of General Editor of the Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House. A patron of the arts, Juntao was extremely generous when it came to showing his support toward the art world. He was a collector with an impressive collection and ended up donating four thousand pieces to his birth city of Tongxian two years before his death in 1998, which in response, the city built the Juntao Art House to display and house his donations. His donations included his calligraphy and seal-cutting collection along with his own works. One thousand of the pieces were from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and many of his personal works were centered around the city of Haining and Tongxian. Juntao was not only talented in all fields of art and design but also was an important artistic figure during the Shanghai revival and continued to be a patron and supporter of the arts until the very end of his life—making a large contribution in design not only through his donations but also with his works during a time of artistic change within China.


Works Cited

50Watts. Shanghai Expression: Graphic Design in China in the 1920s and 30s – 50 Watts, 2012, 50watts.com/Shanghai-Expression-Graphic-Design-in-China-in-the-1920s-and-30s.

“Exhibition in Commemoration of 110th Birthday of Qian Juntao : Art World of Qian Juntao.” ZheJiang Art Museum, Zhejiang Art Museum Haining Municipal People’s Government, www.zjam.org.cn/Site_En/Exbition/ExbitionDetail.aspx?etid=2545.

Hu, Eric. “e-r-h.” Eric Hu, Tumblr, 26 Mar. 2015, e-r-h.tumblr.com/post/114673076387/works-by-qian-jun-tao-from-1930-1933-shanghai.

Jun Tao Art House, Zhejiang Official Web Portal, www.zj.gov.cn/art/2012/5/30/art_1568669_26245691.html.

Loh, Juliana. “An Art Deco Journey through Shanghai’s Belle Époque.” Lonely Planet, Lonely Planet, 17 Feb. 2016, www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/an-art-deco-journey-through-shanghais-belle-epoque.

Sicard, Daniïèle. Qian Juntao, Chinesenewart, www.chinesenewart.com/chinese-artists14/qianjuntao.htm#:~:text=Qian%20Juntao%20was%20born%20on,Company%2C%20in%20Shanghai.