Modern Woman by Qian Juntao

The 1930’s marks a major shift in artistic style and design within China as well as the introduction of the “Shanghai style” or “Chinese deco.” Qian Juntao was known to be the most skilled and inventive designer at the time as he was able to create works such as his piece Modern Woman that reflected design properties of the West but maintained Chinese aesthetics. One can note his shift from flowing and relatively free-form calligraphy and illustration to stark and bold typography and geometric forms. Modern Woman showcases his usage of abstract compositions, Art Deco and Constructivist influences and prominent typography while still incorporating a strong Chinese influence and identity. Juntao and his works were extremely influential for artists during this period, as design was transitioning from traditional and natural scenes to abstract modernism. Most of his work during this time was created for the Kaiming Book Company and Wanye Book Company, and works like Modern Woman were created in the name of book cover design and advertisement. Modern Woman could be interpreted as a piece made for the sake of society–an example of how design had started to move away from the depiction of scenery and realism and toward complete reinvention. This piece shows the influences of Western styles and imagery, but still holds true to Chinese identity and its rich cultural influences. This piece signifies the growth and reinvention of China into a modern age of design, with innovative and new-age works like Juntao’s Modern Woman reaching and influencing both the Chinese and international audience.

Works Cited

Kittle, Alex. “Graphic Design: Chinese Cover Design in the 1920s and 30s.” Art, Film, and Over-Enthusiasm, 14 Feb. 2014, alexkittle.com/2014/02/14/graphic-design-chinese-cover-design-in-the-1920s-and-30s/.

“Shanghai Expression: Graphic Design in China in the 1920s and 30s.” 50 Watts, 50 Watts Books, May 2012, 50watts.com/filter/cover/Shanghai-Expression-Graphic-Design-in-China-in-the-1920s-and-30s.

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