Resources Organized by Time Period: 20th Century



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Art and China's Revolution
Asia Society
"Art and China’s Revolution reflects upon one of the most tumultuous and catastrophic periods in recent Chinese history⎯the three decades following the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949. During this time, the government led by Mao Zedong sought to modernize China across all aspects of society, a process that included suppressing or destroying much of traditional culture. The government also sought to create a new visual culture to communicate its goals and ideology to the Chinese people. Artists were encouraged to create art that reflected the revolutionary spirit of the time, in Mao’s words, to create art for the people. The impact of this directive on artists and art making was enormous. ... Until now, little effort has been made to take account of this period, during which art and politics were so closely intertwined. ... This exhibition marks a first attempt, which we hope will be the start of many, to examine these artistic developments within an historical framework that prompts a discussion of their impact on Chinese culture today." With extensive text and images of several works from the exhibition, as well as an interactive timeline of Chinese art from 1949 to 1979.

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/chinarevo/
 
Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China
Asia Society
Online presentation of a 2004 exhibition that takes "a comprehensive look at the innovative photo and video art produced since the mid-1990s in China." Featured topics: History and Memory; Reimagining the Body; People and Places; and Performing the Self.

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/arts/past_future/index.html
 
The Boundaries of Heaven: Chinese Ink Painting in the Republican Period, 1911-1949
The University of Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art
"As with any period of transition, the Republican era (1911-1949) was one of immense change. Political instability coupled with efforts to dramatically rethink Chinese culture, producing an embattled art world in which dynamic experimentation often clashed with the stalwart defense of tradition." With a short exhibition overview and paintings by 7 artists.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.spencerart.ku.edu/exhibitions/reviving_boundries.shtml
 
Bridging East and West: The Chinese Diaspora and Lin Yutang
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Online presentation of a 2008 exhibition featuring "43 paintings and calligraphies by 19 leading Chinese artists of the mid-20th century." With images of 12 artworks.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/special/se_event.asp?OccurrenceId={340DCCE9-740D-4C97-...
 
The Chairman Smiles
International Institute of Social History
"The former Soviet Union, Cuba, and China: three countries where posters played an important political role and received a large amount of artistic attention. This is a selection of 145 political posters, famous masterpieces as well as equally beautiful but unknown examples drawn from the collection of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. ... The Chinese posters include not only a number from the period of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), with the glorification of Mao Zedong, idyllic scenes in agricultural communes and sharp attacks on political opponents, but also extremely rare posters from circa 1949 to the early 1960s, with the establishment of the People's Republic and the campaign for the Great Leap Forward. There are also posters from the 1980s and early 1990s, the period of Deng Xiaoping and the economic modernization."

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.iisg.nl/exhibitions/chairman/index.php
 
China Reconfigured: The Art of Ah Xian
Asia Society
Online presentation of a 2002-03 exhibition of porcelain busts from the contemporary Chinese artist Ah Xian's "China China" series: "China Refigured explores ideas of Chineseness or Chinese identity. In Ah Xian's work, casts of the human body are a background upon which he projects traditional Chinese decorative designs such as dragons, birds and flowers, and landscapes. By making these designs resemble tattoos, Ah Xian makes a statement about the indelibility of one's cultural background, all the more prominent in his work since his residence in Australia for the last twelve years."

Go to Museum Resource: http://asiasociety.org/arts-culture/asia-society-museum/past-exhibitions/china-...
 
Chinese Calligraphy
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
An overview of the development of calligraphy in China: "Calligraphy, or the art of writing, was the visual art form prized above all others in traditional China. The genres of painting and calligraphy emerged simultaneously, sharing identical tools—namely, brush and ink. Yet calligraphy was revered as a fine art long before painting; indeed, it was not until the Song dynasty, when painting became closely allied with calligraphy in aim, form, and technique, that painting shed its status as mere craft and joined the higher ranks of the fine arts. With images of 16 paintings from the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties and two related objects.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chcl/hd_chcl.htm
 
Chinese Printmaking Today: Woodblock Printing in China, 1980-2000
The British Library
Examples of contemporary Chinese printmaking. See especially LEARNING section (at top of page) for ideograms of contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing. Teacher's Notes and Suggested Activities can also be found on this page.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/chineseprints/intro.html
 
Chinese Woodblock Prints: A Selection from the Collection of A. E. Maia do Amaral
Universidade de Coimbra
A collection of 20th-century Chinese woodblock prints of various types, including traditional ritual prints for doors, walls, and windows, etc., as well as modern decorative prints. Each print has brief information about its ritual purpose and/or iconography.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www1.ci.uc.pt/pessoal/maiaa/index.htm
 
Enchanted Stories: Chinese Shadow Theater in Shaanxi
China Institute
Curriculum guide to a 2008 exhibition of "about ninety figures and stage settings (gates, towers, carriages, furniture, etc.) cut from leather and elaborately colored and decorated. ... In common with Chinese drama as a whole, shadow theater is closely linked to religion, ritual, and the daily life of the community. ... Enchanted Stories reflects this relationship between theater and religion through figures depicting the gods of Good Fortune, Wealth, and Longevity; officials of the heavenly hierarchy; Buddhist and Daoist luminaries; and images of hell and its functionaries engaged in the grisly business of punishing wrong-doers. "

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.chinainstitute.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewPage&pageID=685&nod...
 
Graphic Arts (of 20th-Century China)
University of Washington, Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization
"China's visual culture changed dramatically in the twentieth century with the great growth in advertising, posters, and other mass-produced means of using images to attract the attention of the populace." A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization was prepared by University of Washington history professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey. With questions for discussion, timelines, maps, and suggested readings. Select HOME to find link to teachers' guides for all topics featured on the website.

Go to Museum Resource: http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/graph/9gramain.htm
 
The Hefner Collection: Paintings
The Hefner Collection
The Hefner Collection is focused primarily on oil paintings by Chinese artists working from the mid to late 20th century. Fifty-four artists are represented under the "Paintings" section; a variety of styles and subjects are represented. There is a short biography of each artist and a brief description of each painting. The works can only be viewed by artist.

Go to Museum Resource: http://hefnercollection.com/thehefnercollection/index.asp
 
History of Chinese in America: An Interactive Timeline
Museum of Chinese in America
A timeline of key figures and events in the political and cultural history of Chinese Americans from 1933 to 2009.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.mocanyc.org/learn/timeline
 
Inside Out: New Chinese Art
Asia Society
Online presentation of a 1998-99 exhibition of new art produced by artists in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and by selected artists who emigrated to the West in the late 1980s. Focuses on works of art that explore the complex relationship between culturally specific issues and larger developments of a modern/postmodern age. Site includes images of more than 20 works (but without descriptions), plus profiles of two commissioned works and one "work in progress" by the artist Xu Bing.

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/arts/insideout/index.html
 
Landscape of Memory: The Art of Mu Xin
Asia Society
Online presentation of a 2003 exhibition of art by Chinese contemporary artist Mu Xin. With an essay discussing the connections between Mu Xin's work and the tradition of Chinese landscape painting and Chinese history; his appreciation of Western humanist philosophy; his imprisonment during the Cultural Revolution; and an analysis of his technique.

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/arts/muxin/index.html
 
Ling Long Woman's Magazine (Shanghai, 1931 to 1937)
Columbia University Libraries
A digital archive of Ling Long Women's Magazine, "originally published in Shanghai from 1931 to 1937 and of significant scholarly research value in several disciplines." With extensive background information about the magazine and the social and cultural context in which it was produced.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/linglong/index.html
 
Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California
Online presentation of a 2008-09 exhibition that "represents the historical span of art from the 1970s to today in China and demonstrates the dramatic evolution that has occurred, with artists exploring new materials and concepts far from what might have been imagined by even the most clairvoyant." With 11 small images of works from the exhibition and an essay by the curator.

Go to Museum Resource: http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/exhibition/mahjong
 
Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Online presentation of a 2010 exhibition of "around one hundred and fifty works by Xie Zhiliu (pronounced "shay jer-leo"), one of modern China's leading traditional artists and a preeminent connoisseur of painting and calligraphy. The rare trove of material on view demonstrates how studying and copying earlier models were as much a part of Chinese artistic tradition as learning from nature." With images of 125 works from the exhibition.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/special/se_event.asp?OccurrenceId={E2FABDCA-CC56-4EA7-...
 
Modern Period, 1912–present
Princeton University Art Museum
An overview of political and artistic developments in China from 1912 to the present. With a map and four representative objects, all with lengthy descriptions.

Go to Museum Resource: http://etcweb.princeton.edu/asianart/timeperiod_china.jsp?ctry=China&pd=Modern
 
Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Online presentation of a 2001 exhibition. "This selection from the Ellsworth Collection ... focuses on Chinese painting created during the period of clashing social visions and dramatic political change that marked China’s entry into the modern world. In the arts, it was a time when the tensions between tradition and innovation, native and foreign styles reached an unprecedented level of intensity." With images of 10 related artworks.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/special/se_event.asp?OccurrenceId={BEEB8BBB-FF01-11D3-...
 
Remembering 1882: Fighting for Civil Rights in the Shadow of the Chinese Exclusion Act
Chinese Historical Society of America
"In 1882 Congress passed the nation's first major immigration legislation -- a law to prevent people of Chinese descent from entering the United States. Remembering 1882 explores the historical debate around the Exclusion Act from its origins through its full repeal in 1968, the civil rights struggle of Chinese Americans and allies, and the historic importance of habeas corpus in the Chinese American community."

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.civilrightssuite.org/1882/index.php/iID/174
 
Timeline of Art History: China, 1900 A.D.–present
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
"The twentieth century witnesses the fall of the Qing dynasty, and with it, the ancient imperial system." With a period overview, list of key events, and 8 related artworks. Also has links to additional information about the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), traditional Chinese painting in the 20th century, an abridged list of Chinese emperors, and timelines of Japan and Korea during this time.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=11®ion=eac
 
To Enjoy and Defend Our American Citizenship
Chinese Historical Society of America
This exhibit "(explores) the experiences of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in their groundbreaking work alongside groups such as the NAACP to challenge discriminatory laws and create the support systems necessary for survival in a segregated United States."

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.civilrightssuite.org/OurAmericanCitizenship/index.php/iID/232
 
A Tradition Redefined: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Ink Paintings
The University of Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art
"A Tradition Redefined presents more than 60 works by artists active in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and abroad. The works effectively convey some of the artistic tensions brought about by the overwhelming changes in Chinese culture from 1950-2000, providing a unique glimpse of modern and contemporary Chinese art. In examining this five-decade period, the exhibition demonstrates the dramatic evolution of Chinese ink painting in recent times and lays a foundation for understanding the international-style work that is being created in China today." With a short exhibition overview and paintings by 5 artists.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.spencerart.ku.edu/exhibitions/chu_tsing_li.shtml
 
Traditional Chinese Painting in the Twentieth Century
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A brief discussion of traditional painting in 20th-century China. With 7 related artworks.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cptg/hd_cptg.htm
 
Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Interactive website designed to complement a 2001 exhibition of works by contemporary artist Xu Bing, who is known for his "bold, teasingly thought-provoking works of art (that) challenge preconceptions about written communication." Includes audio interviews with the artist and interactive explorations of three works from the exhibition.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/xubing/default.html
 
Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home
Peabody Essex Museum
"Yin Yu Tang, a late Qing dynasty merchants' house, was originally located in southeastern China. Re-erected at the Peabody Essex Museum, Yin Yu Tang is now open to visitors." This companion website to the permanent installation at the museum allows visitors to explore "this rare example of the region's renowned architecture and to learn about the daily life of the Huang family, who lived in Yin Yu Tang for over 200 years." With in-depth text, images, and diagrams organized around the topics Orientation, Construction, Ornamentation, Belongings, and Preservation.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.pem.org/sites/yinyutang/
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