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Durham University

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Ancient art and modern history – the legacy of Lu Xun in China

(11 February 2021)

Our museums may be closed for now, but why not join us online and find out how an ancient art became a tool of national resistance in China?

This month we have filmed a video tour of our exhibition on the legacy of Lu Xun, one of the leading cultural figures of 20th century China.

Passionate critic

Lu Xun wrote everything from essays to poems and short stories. He was a passionate critic of cultural and political conditions of China in the early 20th century and used his work to speak out and share his views, which contributed powerfully to Chinese society and cultural development at the time.

Lu Xun was in fact a pen-name for Zhou Shuren, and over the course of his life he published tens of literary pieces, becoming an important figure in modern Chinese literature.

Art as a tool for social change

But, his influence was not confined to printed words. He also took the neglected art of woodblock printing, which was invented in China over 1,000 years earlier, and brought it to a modern audience.

Xun used this ancient art form as a tool for social change and national resistance, founding the Modern Woodcut Movement in the 1930’s.

Our new exhibition includes over fifty prints spanning every decade from the 1930’s when Xun re-imagined woodblock printing as an instrument for opposition.

Lu Xun's Legacy: Print Making in Modern China is drawn from the collections of the Muban Educational Trust. It is one of a number of exhibitions available online through our Explore from Home series, to help you enjoy our museums and collections safely until they can reopen.

Find out more:

You can take a virtual tour of the exhibition here

Take a look at some of our other online exhibitions here.