About Odds and Ends of “Apollo Society”
Art Exchange VOL.02/2013|By Liu Xilin

   

Group Photo of Apollo Society

In 1982, I was invited to write some entries for Dictionary of Chinese Fine Arts to be published by Shanghai Dictionary Publishing House. As the old generation had different opinions about Apollo Society, I had to write to Mr. Wang Ziyun for information. Though I might be a stranger to this master, he still wrote a reply with his shaking hands, which consists of several hundred regular scriptsin small characters with Chinese brush and one picture. Here, I would like to show Mr. Wang’s original script to the public, so as to live up his devotion. 

Founded in 1921, Apollo Society was initiated and organized mainly by Li Yishi who studied in UK and Wu Fading who studied in France, two leading professors of then state-run Beijing Fine Art School(It used to be a polytechnic school. Liu Kaiqu was admitted into this school after his graduation from primary school. In 1919, it became an institute of higher education after the establishment of senior normal course.) The aim of the Society was mainly to oppose conservative style and corruption of the school president Zheng Jin (studied Japanese painting in Japan, styled Geng Chang, born in Xin Hui, Guangdong Province) and to carry out new fine arts events or movements. At the very beginning, Wang Ziyun, a student from the first senior normal course and newly expelled by the school due to his participation in a student-movement, was appointed as a secretary. From then on, membership of the Society gradually increased. In winter of 1921, the first exhibition of fine arts was held and in summer vocation of 1922, a summer lecture of fine arts of the Society was held in a big classroom of Normal University. Most students of the class were fine arts teachers of different middle schools. Soon after that, a training course was held for fine arts study of the Society. In winter of 1922, all members of the Society gathered together and the picture was taken then. 

Apollo Society was actually a fine arts research organization, but it had no president or chairman. It was presided over by Li Yishi, but in fact, Wang Ziyun was the only one who managed the work in the Society. In winters of 1922 and 1923, the Society held the second and third fine arts exhibitions. In summer of 1923, the second summer lecture of fine arts was given again. The all above mentioned information could be found in Morning Press, Shun Tian Times and Peking Journal of the year. Apollo Fine Art Society was then the first and the only group of New Fine Arts Movement in Peking after May 4th Movement in early 1920s. After 1924, the society was dismissed as nobody took charge. 

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