National Palace Museum

Graced by Nature: A Special Exhibition of Yu Yu-jen's Calligraphy(in Chinese)

  • Chief Editor: He Yan-Chiuan, Lin, Wan-Ru
    Supervised and edited by: Liu Fang-Ju
    Executive editor: Kang Shiu-Lan
    translated (from Chinese to English) by Don Brix
  • ISBN: 978-957-562-789-8
  • Price: NT$1200
  • Binding: softcover

On Jun. 1, 2017, the National Palace Museum (NPM) introduced the Graced by Nature: A Special Exhibition of Yu Yu-jen's Calligraphy. The exhibition presents a total of 64 calligraphy works created by Yu Yu-jen prior to and after his arrival in Taiwan. These masterpieces illustrate the two major styles for which he was best known (i.e., stele and cursive) and include 18 of the precious calligraphy works donated by Yu Peng (Yu Yu-jen's son) in 2015.

Together with Tan Yankai, Hu Hanmin, and Wu Zhihui, Yu Yu-jen is known as one of the "four master calligraphers in the Republic of China period." Regarding the development of Yu’s calligraphy, it can be roughly divided into three stages: modelbook studies, stele studies, and cursive script. However, relatively few of his works from the modelbook phase survive. His stele studies began around the age of thirty, and the focus on cursive script started around his mid-fifties. In fact, many of the works by him in the NPM's collection are from after the age of fifty, thereby encompassing the stele and cursive styles that he was renowned for.

Because Chinese characters feature a high number of strokes that ultimately make them energy and time-consuming to write, in 1931, Yu established the Cursive Script Society in Shanghai, embarking on the study and organization of Chinese cursive script through the ages. He strived at practicing and promoting standardized cursive script in the hope of saving people’s time and energy in writing. His ambition and achievements were shown in his efforts to gather the works of ancient cursive script masters in order to integrate their combined wisdom and strengths. Later, he carefully selected beautiful and practical standardized cursive script from the aforementioned massive collection of cursive script, allowing the essence accumulated over thousands of years to be used by later generations, meriting their admiration.

This exhibition catalogue contains images of the above special exhibition and faithfully presents Yu's mesmerizing cursive script. The exhibition catalogue also contains special articles written by associate research fellow He Yan-quan and assistant research fellow Lin Wan-ru after conducting in-depth research on Yu. He and Lin subsequently showcase the characteristics and colors of the papers used by Yu to make the calligraphy works, authentically exemplify the "ages of the papers," and verify Yu’s fascination with papers. Apart from being a calligrapher, Yu was also a revolutionist, educator, and politician; his strong sense of social responsibility and endeavors had made a positive impact on future generations.

Graced by Nature  A Special Exhibition of Yu Yu-jen’s  Calligraphy
Graced by Nature  A Special Exhibition of Yu Yu-jen’s  Calligraphy