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Remembering a pioneer

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-10 07:52

Remembering a pioneer

Lei Guiyuan's artistic achievements are celebrated at a retrospective exhibition showing his designs, sketches and paintings. [Photo provided to China Daily]

An ongoing exhibition at the Tsinghua University Art Museum celebrates Lei Guiyuan, through his manuscripts, drafts, paintings, calligraphic pieces, ceramics and textiles based on his designs. Lin Qi reports. 

'Poetry is about life. So it is with design," said Lei Guiyuan (1906-89), the father of Chinese modern design. Lei, who heralded the modernization of Chinese design, founded the country's first designers group, the Shanghai Industrial Artists Association, in 1934.

Lei, who published several design books based on his study of traditional handicrafts and antiques, also helped establish China's first modern design school in Chengdu in 1939, the "wartime capital" during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

Now, an ongoing exhibition to show Lei's achievements is being held at the Tsinghua University Art Museum. On show are dozens of his manuscripts, drafts, paintings, calligraphic pieces, ceramics and textiles based his designs.

The exhibition, Design Life, also marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Tsinghua University's Academy of Arts and Design, formerly the Central Academy of Arts and Design, where Lei served as the first deputy head.

Born in an official's family, Lei was brought up by his grandfather, a former diplomat at the court of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), in his ancestral home in Shanghai. At 15, Lei joined his father, who was the director at the library of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.

He later enrolled at the Beiping Fine Art School, now the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

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