Theses Bachelor's

The Contemporary Chinese Art Dilemma: From Communist Government Control to Capitalist Market Control

Huang, Lisa

This thesis will explore the effects of Chinese globalization and modernization on contemporary Chinese art. Contemporary Chinese art is an important case study because of its unusual development. Unlike western art practices, which grew out of gradual historical evolution of the traditional canon, contemporary Chinese art finds its origins in 1976 at the end of the Cultural Revolution. During Mao Zedong’s governance of the Communist Party of China from 1949 to 1976, Chinese culture was virtually eliminated save officially sanctioned propaganda art. Thus at the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, Chinese art found itself at a tabula rasa. The events following the revolution encouraged artists to take inspiration from western art and philosophy, incorporating western techniques into their discussion of the Chinese experience. Although contemporary Chinese art appropriates western practices, the foundational history of the art differs vastly from that of the west. Unlike contemporary western art, which developed as a series of reactions against previous movements, contemporary Chinese art has grown out of a desire to find alternative modes of expression in attempt to discuss the Chinese experience. Central to the discussion of contemporary Chinese art is the introduction of global arts institutions such as the market to artistic concerns. Beyond the country’s new cultural beginnings, China’s shift from a communist to a capitalist state has brought forth significant complications regarding the production, circulation, and distribution of art.

Geographic Areas


More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History (Barnard College)
Thesis Advisors
Reynolds, Jonathan M.
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
June 3, 2016