Resources Organized by Time Period: 20th Century



ALL | China | Japan | Korea | Vietnam/Southeast Asia | India/South Asia | Tibet/Himalaya | Asia General
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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
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