Brightly coloured prints, portraying model behaviour or a better future, have been a ubiquitous element of Chinese political culture from Imperial times until present. As economic reform swept the People's Republic in the 1980s, visual propaganda ceased to depict the tanned and muscular labourers in a proletarian utopia, so typical of preceding decades. Instead, Western icons of progress and development were employed: high-speed bullet trains, spacecraft, high-rise buildings, gridlocked free-ways and projections of general affluence. Socialist Realism was phased out by design and mixed- media techniques that were influenced by Western advertising. This lavishly illustrated study traces the development of the style and content of the Chinese propaganda poster in the decade of reform, from its traditional origins to its use as a tool for political and economic purposes.
This dissertation takes the famous Chinese revolutionary music-drama The White-Haired Girl as a case study of the importance of notions of folk cultural authenticity on the literature and art produced under the auspices of the Communist Party in China during the wartime era of the 1940s. The idea that The White-Haired Girl was originally inspired by folklore has often been emphasized by the Chinese literary establishment to make it appear as a collective creation of the nation and interpreted by scholars as evidence of the Communist Party's successful appropriation of popular social values for revolutionary propaganda during the war. This study goes beyond such claims by examining the roles of the individual writers, literary theorists and dramatists who produced The White-Haired Girl to reveal how themes and forms from Chinese folk culture were converted into artistic signs of the social authenticity of the revolution, in a process I label revolutionary folklorism. Examining the ways that romantic nationalist ideas of folkloric authenticity mediated modern literary and theatrical aesthetics and revolutionary politics in China during the war, I aim to resituate Chinese Communist cultural production within a larger global history of modernism's attempts to overcome tradition through reconfigurations of elite and popular cultures. Although widely understood as originally inspired by an authentic oral folktale, the first chapter of this study argues instead that the narrative of The White Haired Girl was crafted by the little-known writer Shao Zinan, who utilized motifs of the fantastic from folklore and traditional fiction and drew upon modern literary, social-scientific and political imaginaries to depict the plight of women under rural patriarchy and offer Communist revolution as a vision of gender liberation. The second chapter of this dissertation examines how the Marxist literary critic Zhou Yang, head of the premiere Communist literary and artistic training institute during the war - the Lu Xun Art Academy, sponsored the production of The White- Haired Girl amidst criticisms that its narrative was too fantastic by re-interpreting Shao's story in light of theories of Russian literary aesthetics, Soviet Socialist Realism and the Maoist ideology of national liberation. The third chapter of this study examines the intersecting legacies of the Western and Soviet modernist theaters and the early twentieth-century movement to reform traditional Chinese theater that the drama theorist Zhang Geng drew upon as he supervised the stage production of The White-Haired Girl at the Lu Xun Academy. Through Zhang's influence, the music-drama was conceived as type of national revolutionary Gesamtkunstwerk , or "total art-work," that could maximize the emotional affect and political impact of the work on the basis of a formal integration of elements of Chinese and Western and folk and elite performing arts, revealing unexpected traces of the influence of Wagnerian aesthetics on the revolutionary literature and art of twentieth-century China. This study concludes by considering how The White-Haired Girl represented a unique historical repurposing of traditional Chinese modes of literary production on the basis of local folkloric sources to apply a Marxist critique of ideology to popular religious consciousness in China, an operation which outlined the Communist revolution within the paradoxical discursive figure of a legend about the falsity of legends or an anti-mythological myth.
Usage of the political keyword 'propaganda' by the Chinese Communist Party has changed and expanded over time. These changes have been masked by strong continuities spanning periods in the history of the People's Republic of China from the Mao Zedong era (1949–76) to the new era of Xi Jinping (2012–present). Redefining Propaganda in Modern China builds on the work of earlier scholars to revisit the central issue of how propaganda has been understood within the Communist Party system. What did propaganda mean across successive eras? What were its institutions and functions? What were its main techniques and themes? What can we learn about popular consciousness as a result? In answering these questions, the contributors to this volume draw on a range of historical, cultural studies, propaganda studies and comparative politics approaches. Their work captures the sweep of propaganda – its appearance in everyday life, as well as during extraordinary moments of mobilization (and demobilization), and its systematic continuities and discontinuities from the perspective of policy-makers, bureaucratic functionaries and artists. More localized and granular case studies are balanced against deep readings and cross-cutting interpretive essays, which place the history of the People's Republic of China within broader temporal and comparative frames. Addressing a vital aspect of Chinese Communist Party authority, this book is meant to provide a timely and comprehensive update on what propaganda has meant ideologically, operationally, aesthetically and in terms of social experience.
A groundbreaking book that describes a distinctively Chinese avant-gardism and a modernity that unifies art, politics, and social life. To the extent that Chinese contemporary art has become a global phenomenon, it is largely through the groundbreaking exhibitions curated by Gao Minglu: "China/Avant-Garde" (Beijing, 1989), "Inside Out: New Chinese Art" (Asia Society, New York, 1998), and "The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art" (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 2005) among them. As the first Chinese writer to articulate a distinctively Chinese avant-gardism and modernity—one not defined by Western chronology or formalism—Gao Minglu is largely responsible for the visibility of Chinese art in the global art scene today. Contemporary Chinese artists tend to navigate between extremes, either embracing or rejecting a rich classical tradition. Indeed, for Chinese artists, the term "modernity" refers not to a new epoch or aesthetic but to a new nation—modernityinextricably connects politics to art. It is this notion of "total modernity" that forms the foundation of the Chinese avant-garde aesthetic, and of this book. Gao examines the many ways Chinese artists engaged with this intrinsic total modernity, including the '85 Movement, political pop, cynical realism, apartment art, maximalism, and the museum age, encompassing the emergenceof local art museums and organizations as well as such major events as the Shanghai Biennial. He describes the inner logic of the Chinese context while locating the art within the framework of a worldwide avant-garde. He vividly describes the Chinese avant-garde's embrace of a modernity that unifies politics, aesthetics, and social life, blurring the boundaries between abstraction, conception, and representation. Lavishly illustrated with color images throughout, this book will be a touchstone for all considerations of Chinese contemporary art.
"As the first substantial investigation of commercial art in China, Selling Happiness explains how the early twentieth century Chinese public came in accept Western style art as mainstream and the heretofore ignored process by which the Chinese art world became (in some sectors at least) thoroughly cosmopolitan. A monumental study of the most important genre of modern Chinese commercial art, this volume will appeal not only to historians of Chinese art but also to those interested in literary, economic, and social history. It will be an essential resource for comparative studies of visual culture."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Here is a convincing reflection that changes our understanding of gender in Maoist culture, esp. for what critics from the 1990s onwards have termed its erasure of gender and sexuality. In particular the strong heroines of the yangbanxi, or model works which dominated the Cultural Revolution period, have been seen as genderless revolutionaries whose images were damaging to women. Drawing on contemporary theories ranging from literary and cultural studies to sociology, this book challenges that established view through detailed semiotic analysis of theatrical systems of the yangbanxi including costume, props, kinesics, and various audio and linguistic systems. Acknowledging the complex interplay of traditional, modern, Chinese and foreign gender ideologies as manifest in the 'model works', it fundamentally changes our insights into gender in Maoist culture.
This book examines the complex relationship between art and politics in the People's Republic of China between 1949 and 1984. It focuses in particular on three important facets of this relationship, namely, the organizational structure of China's art establishment, the ideological framework for directing creative activity, and the political movement as a key method for periodically ensuring that artists follow the current official line.
Chinese art has experienced its most profound metamorphosis since the early 1950s, transforming from humble realism to socialist realism, from revolutionary art to critical realism, then avant-garde movement, and globalized Chinese art. With a hybrid mix of Chinese philosophy, imported but revised Marxist ideology, and western humanities, Chinese artists have created an alternative approach – after a great ideological and aesthetic transition in the 1980s – toward its own contemporaneity though interacting and intertwining with the art of rest of the world. This book will investigate, from the perspective of an activist, critic, and historian who grew up prior to and participated in the great transition, and then researched and taught the subject, the evolution of Chinese art in modern and contemporary times. The volume will be a comprehensive and insightful history of the one of the most sophisticated and unparalleled artistic and cultural phenomena in the modern world.