China's Intrepid Muse

The Cartoons and Art of Ding Cong

by Marcia R. Ristaino

This illustrated study presents the life and work of China's most famous cartoonist and caricaturist, Ding Cong, who created under the name Xiao Ding. Ding was born in Shanghai in 1916 into a celebrated family in the arts, and lived through the tumultuous events that marked China's history throughout the twentieth century. Widely acquainted with China's artists and intellectuals, Ding suffered profoundly during the Anti-Rightist Movement beginning in 1957, as well as the later Cultural Revolution (1966–76). However, his great popularity stemmed from an intellectual and artistic integrity that made the inept and corrupt of both right and left fair game for his barbed art. Ding Cong's vision is further enhanced by his additional and sometimes surpassing talents as a painter, woodblock artist, and caricaturist. Although he remains best known for his cartoon work, he ranks as one of China's great artists of the twentieth century.

In researching her book, Professor Ristaino spent many hours interviewing Ding Cong and his wife, Shen Jun, at their Beijing home. An exhibit of the artist's work, including a video of some of the interview sessions, will be presented in October, 2009 at the George Mason University, College of Visual and Performing Arts; it will be held in conjunction with a symposium at the Library of Congress. The accompanying publication presents over 90 illustrations by the artist, with background text gleaned from this living witness to the events that inspired them. Together they offer a unique perspective on a fascinating and complex century of Chinese history.

Marcia R. Ristaino was Senior Chinese Acquisitions Specialist at the Library of Congress until her retirement in 2007, when she joined the Kluge Center for Scholars at the Library of Congress to complete work on this project. Dr. Ristaino is author of China's Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928 (Duke University Press, 1987), Port of Last Resort: Diaspora Communities in Shanghai (Stanford U. Press, 2002), and The Jacquinot Safe Zone: Wartime Refugees in Shanghai (Stanford U. Press, 2008).

176 pp, 7 x 10, Soft
94 color and b&w illustrations, bibliography
Modern Chinese history / Chinese art
ISBN: 978-1-891640-57-5