Taiwanese ink painter Liu Kuo-sung (劉國松) was named a foreign honorary member by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Oct. 8, becoming the first painter from the Chinese-speaking community to receive the honor.
The ceremony was held at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre and presided by actor John Lithgow. With the support of the Academy's Board of Directors and President Jonathan F. Fanton, Liu signed his name on the register to the cheers of nearly 700 attendees.
More than sixty members of the Chinese-speaking community have been inducted to the Academy in the past, including philosopher Hu Shih (胡適), aerospace scientist Tsien Hsue-shen (錢學森), Nobel physicist Samuel C.C. Ting (丁肇中), and Nobel chemist Yuan Tseh Lee (李遠哲). Liu, however, is the first foreign honorary member selected from the field of contemporary Asian art.
Born in 1932, Liu founded the May Painting Society shortly after graduating from the National Taiwan Normal University in 1956, launching a modern art movement revolutionizing Oriental ink painting across East Asia.
He is now known as the father of modern ink painting and is recognized by lifetime achievement awards from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, including Taiwan's National Award for the Arts and the China Arts Award.
Liu, who isnow a professor at his alma mater National Taiwan Normal University, has cultivated a number of internationally renowned painters by adopting the revolutionary teaching method of "first seek to be different, and then seek to be good.”
Liu is also one of the most sought-after contemporary Asian artists. His works have been collected by over 80 art institutions, including the British Museum, the Beijing Palace Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences selects new fellows and members through a three-round process of voting and nominations. Candidates encompass scientists, scholars, writers, artists, and representatives of all professional fields.
The Academy has over 4,000 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members, including 250 Nobel Prize laureates and over 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. The list can be found here.