During the past two decades there has also been a tremendous
upsurge of interest in contemporary Asian, including Chinese, art and
artists throughout the art field. China has become a global player not
only in economic development, but also in art, including performing
Chinese art students arrived on the European scene in
the 1920s; by the 1930s all of the current artistic modes of the West
had been introduced into China. With the Communist takeover in 1949
the parameters for art were changed. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s,
especially during the 1960s= cultural revolution, Chinese artists were
insulated and isolated from cultural developments in the West, such
as pop art. As a result of the Aopen door@ policy in the early 1980s,
all kinds of western modern art flooded into China and polarized Chinese
artists into two camps: those who wanted to follow the West and those
who wanted to cling to tradition.
The advent of post-modernism created two different views:
one is that post-modernism is not possible in China due to its economic,
cultural and artistic conditions and that a regional Sinified art is
the answer; the other is that China should embrace post-modernism, believing
that ancient Chinese civilization has become a burden. Exhibitions of
modern Chinese art during the late 1980s were mostly descriptive and
narrative, aiming at winning greater freedom, showing the world that
China, too, has modern art. In fact, it edged toward its own brand of
modernism within boundaries approved by the authorities. However, contemporary
Chinese art may receive much greater exposure and gain greater interest
in the West than in its own native land. As evidence, we have seen a
number of works published on the subject.
Andrews, Julia. Painters and Politics in the People=s
Republic of China, 1949-1979. Berkeley: University of California
Comprehensive overview with detailed documentation
and extensive bibliographical references.
_____ and Gao Minglu. Fragmented Memory: the Chinese
Avant-garde in Exile. Columbus, OH: Wexner Center for the Arts,
Ohio State University, 1993.
A slim catalog of an exhibition held at the Wexner
Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, in 1993, showing Chinese
Chang, Arnold. Painting in the People=s Republic
of China : the Politics of Style. Boulder, CO: Westview Press,
Outlines major artistic policy and the interaction
between politics and art in China, discussing the effect of these
policies on artists and their response, and focusing on three painters,
Guan Shanyue, Li Keran and Qian Songyan.
China Avant-garde: Counter-currents in Art and Culture.
Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1994.
The AChina/Avant-garde@ exhibition opened in Beijing
on Feb. 5, 1989 and closed quickly after someone opened fire in
the East Wing of Chinese National Gallery. The essays survey various
stages of modern Chinese art, music and photography. The book also
gives a list of modern Chinese artists of the 1980s and 1990s.
China=s New Art, Post-1989. Hong Kong: Hanart
T Z Gallery, 1993.
An exhibition catalog with a retrospective from 1979-1989,
with essays discussing major trends in the development of contemporary
Chinese art, relationships between artists and the government, the
orthodox and the Avant-garde, influence and fate of Western contemporary
art in China, and painting after June 4, 1989.
Ch=uan t=ung y@u ch=uang hsin : erh shih shih chi
Chung-kuo hui hua = Tradition and Innovation : Twentieth Century Chinese
Painting. Hong Kong: Urban Council, 1995.
An catalog of a traveling exhibition in Hong Kong,
Singapore, England and Germany, 1995-1997, with four essays, among
them ATradition and Innovation in Twentieth Century Chinese Painting@
by Chu-tsing Li. Examples are chiefly in traditional style. In Chinese
Chung-kuo hsien tai mei shu kuo chi hs@ueh shu yen
t=ao hui lun wen chi = International Conference, China: Modernity
and Art. Taipei: Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 1991.
In Chinese or English, or English summaries. Papers
of the 1990 conference in Taipei, Taiwan, describing modernity in
Chinese art and modern art in Japan and Korea, among the authors
are Chu-tsing Li, Shen Fu and Michael Sullivan.
Chung-kuo tang tai nü hua chia = Contemporary Chinese
Women Painters. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1995.
An album of 69 women artists= works with an essay,
both in Chinese and English, giving an overview of painting by Chinese
Clarke, David. Art & Place : Essays on Art from
a Hong Kong Perspective. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press,
Discusses a wide range of topics, such as, in section
1, museums, art and its contexts, policy issues, such as the provision
of the establishment of an Arts Development Council. Section 2 includes
art in Hong Kong and western influences.
Cohen, Joan Lebold. The New Chinese Painting, 1949-1986.
New York: Abrams, 1987.
Gives an overview of Chinese painting and painters
during this period, with details on the new waves, realism and beyond,
and peasant and New Year=s painting, with focus on art since 1979.
Includes useful lists of proper names, groups and institutions in
pinyin and Chinese characters.
Croizier, Ralph. Art and Revolution in Modern China:
the Lingnan (Cantonese) School of Painting, 1906-1951. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1988.
Focuses on the regional Lingnan school of painting,
interaction with other schools, and the nation, and the second generation
painters who remained after 1949 and their roles in the art life
of the new order.
Galikowski, Maria. Art and Politics in China, 1949-1984.
Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1998.
Based on the author=s thesis at Leeds University,
the work looks at the first three decades of the People=s Republic
of China, called the formative, 1949-1956, the vacillating, 1956-1966,
and the stormy years, 1966-1976. The final chapter discusses the
new era, the discovery of Athe self@, 1976-1984. Has an extensive
Inside Out: New Chinese Art, edited by Gao Minglu.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998.
Catalog of a traveling exhibition at San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, Asia Society Galleries, New York, Tacoma Art
Museum in Seattle, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Monterrey, Mexico,
and several Asian museums, 1998-2000. The essays discuss transnational
modernity, Chinese modern/postmodern art, a transitional Avant-garde
movement in China, one essay on Taiwan, one on Hong Kong and one
on overseas Chinese artists. A useful chronology of cultural events
in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, such as exhibitions and publication
of art journals, is appended.
Kraus, Richard Curt. Brushes with Power: Modern Politics
and the Chinese Art of Calligraphy. Berkeley: University of California
Calligraphy here serves as a social and political
institution, thus being examined with a new perspective. It focuses
on the relationship between power and calligraphy due to its unique
prestige in China.
Laing, Ellen Johnston. The Winking Owl: Art in the
People=s Republic of China. Berkeley: University of California
A good overview of Chinese art between 1950s and 1970s,
touching upon woodcuts in twentieth China and the political and
artistic significance of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall.
Modernity in Asian Art, [The University of Sydney
East Asian series; no. 7], edited by John Clark. Broadway NSW, Australia:
Wild Peony, 1993.
Contains revised papers delivered at the conference
entitled AModernism and Post-modernism in Asian Art@ held in Canberra
in March 1991. Among them are AThe Art Movement in the 1930s in
Taiwan,@ AChinese Art in the 1950s: An Avant-garde Undercurrent
beneath the Mainstream of Realism,@ AAfter the Empire: Chinese Painters
of the Post-war Generation in Taiwan,@ and AIs There Post-modern
Art in the Peoples= Republic of China?@
Silbergeld, Jerome and Gong Jisui. Contradictions:
Artistic Life, the Socialist State, and the Chinese Painter Li Huasheng.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1993.
Featuring Li Huasheng, an artist born in 1944, the
author provides an account of the working conditions of contemporary
Chinese art professionals. One can learn much about Chinese institutions
that provide salaries, libraries and social connections, and the
politics of interpersonal relations.
Strassberg, Richard E., ed. AI Don=t Want to Play
Cards with Cezanne@ and Other Works: Selections from the Chinese ANew
Wave@ and AAvant-garde@ Art of the Eighties. Pasadena, CA: Pacific
Asia Museum, 1991.
Short essays describe artistic creativity and the
Avant-garde movement of Chinese painting in the eighties. An exhibition
Sullivan, Michael. Art and Artists of Twentieth-century
China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Consists of five parts: 1900-1937: the impact of the
West; 1937-1949: War and civil war; 1949-1976: art in the era of
Mao Zedong; other currents; after Mao, art enters a new era. With
a selected bibliography and index. A detailed overview.
Twentieth-century Chinese painting, edited by
Mayching Kao. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Contains proceedings of the symposium on twentieth-century
Chinese painting, looking at tradition and continuity in Chinese
painting on the one side and a search for modernity on the other.
Developments in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are also discussed.
Through an Open Door: Selections from the Robert
A. Hefner III Collection of Contemporary Chinese Oil Paintings.
Oklahoma City: Portfolio Editions, 1997.
An example of one of the representative trends in
contemporary Chinese art, oil painting, with realism as the main
Yang, Alice. Why Asia? Contemporary Asian and Asian
American Art. New York: New York University Press, 1997.
A collection of essays by Alice Yang, edited by Jonathan
Hay and MimiYoung, containing the author=s critical work, which
provides Aunderstanding of the multiple contexts in which we view
and think about contemporary Asian and Asian American art.@
Art AsiaPacific, ISSN 1039-3625, quarterly.
Sydney, Australia: Fine Arts Press, 1994(?)- Email: email@example.com
. Subscribe: Art AsiaPacific, c/o G+B Magazine, Inc. PO Box 32160,
Newark, NJ 07102. Focuses on contemporary Asian art.
The Art Newspaper, International Edition, ISSN
0960-6556, monthly except August. London : U. Allemandi, 1983- Subscription
Dept., FULCO, PO Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834. Deals with events,
politics and economics, lists exhibitions, archaeological discoveries,
art market and commercial listings. (For example, one can read an
exhibition review of Inside Out at Asia Society and San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, on p. 29 of vol. 10, no. 84 (Sept. 1998).
Asian Art News, ISSN 1023-5884, bimonthly. Hong
Kong: Asian Art News, 1991(?)- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deals
with contemporary Asian art, information on new artists, galleries,
museums and art trends from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan,
the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, India, Australia, etc.
Chinese-art.com, online magazine, traditional
and contemporary sections, http://www.chinese-art.com,
Eastern Art Report, ISSN 1269-8404, six times
a year. London: Eastern Art Pub., 1989- Published in association with
the Centre for Near East Afro-Asia Research.
As an example, the entire issue of vol. 4, no. 4 (1997)
is devoted to AChinese art in the 1990s: cross-influences and cross-currents.@
Return to Table of Contents
Prepared by the Library of the Freer
Gallery of Art
and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
in cooperation with Public Inquiry Services,
revised 11 October 2000