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Thousands Line Up for Beijing Show : China’s 1st Nude Art Exhibit a Naked Success

<i> Reuters</i>

Thousands of art-loving, or simply curious, Chinese lined up in freezing weather today for an expensive taste of once-forbidden fruit, the People’s Republic’s first show of nude paintings.

An estimated 20,000 people paid 27 cents each--five times the usual cost of admission--for the opening day of the nude oils exhibition at Beijing’s National Art Gallery, made up of more than 100 frank works by students and teachers from the country’s top Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Organizers hailed the show, conventional by Western standards, as a breakthrough for artistic freedom in a country that is still one of the world’s most puritanical on matters of public display.

Viewers’ reactions were mixed.

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“It is like opening a window on society,” said student Chang Jiangang, who had traveled more than 600 miles from his native city of Lanzhou for the show. “It lets people enjoy beauty and is certainly not pornographic.”

An off-duty policeman who described himself as a lover of traditional Chinese painting was less impressed.

“Most of the spectators here do not understand art and are coming out of curiosity. They (the organizers) can make a lot of money. But something like this can also lead to trouble and unstable influences,” he said.

Nude paintings are usually confined to art schools in China, and until 1978 artists were banned from using nude models.

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