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Rent Collection Yard

In the mid 1960s, thematic interior sculpture flourished in China. Among the best-known of these interior sculptures is Rent Collection Yard a clay group sculpture created by a number of artists exhibited in Sichuan.

After the founding of New China, Chinese sculptors created many excellent works from their rich life experience and artistic practice. For example, Liu Hulan created by Wang Zhaowen in 1951 is simple and terse, revealing the revolutionary spirit of a young girl. Hard Times created by Pan He in 1957 depicts Red Army soldiers taking a rest from battle and conveys their optimistic spirit and their confidence in their revolutionary cause. In the early 196Os, several new works were produced by sculptors from Beijing and Sichuan Province. They include Liu Huanzhang's Young Girl, Guan Jing's Steel Egg and Wang Hejing's Small Deer. In 1962, 120 sculptures were exhibited in the Chinese Art Gallery in Beijing, and in 1964, the sculptural works of 26 sculptors from Sichuan were shown in the same gallery. Among these sculptures, Nie Er by Ye Yushan, Millions of Serfs Standing UP by Guo Qixiang and Independent by Wang Guanyi were judged very highly. In the following Fourth National Fine Arts Exhibition, more excellent sculpture works were presented to visitors.

The clay group sculpture, Rent Collection yard was created by students and teachers from the sculpture department of the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts and folk artists. The work presents scenes in the rent collection yard, and shows the cruel exploitation of the poor peasants by their landlords. The group sculpture can be divided into consecutive events: Handing in Rent, Checking Rent, Measuring Rent, Accounting, Forced Rent and Rebellion. There are 114 life-size figures in the group, which has a total length of about 96 meters. They vividly reflect Chinese farmers' hard experience in the old society when they suffered exploitation and pressure from landlords. The figures are all different in age, character and identity. The detailed plots, the fine and realistic portrayal of the figures and the background settings make visitors feel as if they were personally on the scene.

The creators of Rent Collection Yard used some traditional clay figure making skills, putting straw, cotton and clay on wooden moulds to form the bodies of the sculpture, and inlaying black glass balls for the eyes. The construction of the figures, however, utilized realistic Western sculpture methods to create a more life-like and accurate appearance. Rent Collection Yard is a good combination of traditional Chinese and Western sculptural techniques. It appealed to both refined and Popular tastes and caused a great social sensation in the1 96Os. (Fig.3-24)(Fig.3-25)

In the 1970s, the Santiaoshi (Three Stone Slabs) Worker Sculpture was created and exhibited in the Santiaoshi Museum in Tianjin to expose the hard experience of Chinese workers, and the group clay sculpture, Angry Serfs, was exhibited in Lhasa. Angry Serfs is divided into four parts with 106 three-dimensional engraved life-sized figures. It has bas-reliefs on four sides to accompany the models and obviously imitates the form of Rent Collection Yard.

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