A Life in Portraits

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There once was a man who had his image photographed by photo studios every year from 1907 to 1968. Those years saw the end of dynastic rule, the early Republic of China and the turbulence and wars that followed, the foun-dation of the People's Republic of China and the early days of the “Cultural Revolution. ”The man arranged the total 62 photographs in an album. The recent fortuitous discovery of that article triggered quite a sensation.
In each picture he wears the clothing and accessories fashionable that year,sometimes with olojects specific to the particular time. Either sitting or stand-ing, from youthful vigor to lar:er wisdom and depth, his expressions are almost invariably serious and peaceful, his eyes calm. Worry makes only rare appearances. Behind each photograph are texts, simple or complex descrip-tions about his major events in that year. His persistence was never really dis-rupted: the serial images record the passage and changes of life and form a vivid archive about his life.
He had no choice about the era he would encounter. But he chose to respect life and tried his best to retain the dignity of a man, which had nothing to do with wealth, poverty, glory and disgrace.
This dignity could, of course, never be granted by anyone else. It certainly sprang from independence of personality, resoluteness of heart and a radiant humanity undimmed by the passage of time.
Table of Contents
Author's Preface
It All Started with the Web
A Lifetime of Portraiture
Life Overseas
The Late Qing Years
Early Years of the Republic of China
The War Years
The Days of New China
The Ye Family
A Life Portrayed in Standing and Sitting
1901, 1906
Ye Jinglu, the Righteous Man in My Eyes
Thoughts on Ye Jinglu's Portrait Photographsa Discussion on Conceptual Art
Author's Profile
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A Life in Portraits