Traveler in the Mountains, by Dong Qichang (1555–1636). Much Chinese painting in the nineteenth century relied on the teachings of Ming-dynasty painter Dong Qichang, who advocated preserving the values and traditions of the cultivated scholar. Dong’s paintings often depicted small figures of a scholar and friends viewing nature beside a steam and mountainside. NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM, TAIPEI, TAIWAN.

From the nineteenth century to the present, Chinese art has undergone drastic changes that mirror earthshaking internal challenges to tradition and reflect as well a myriad of modernizing forces, many foreign, that have penetrated country and culture. Since 2000, Chinese artists have rapidly (if belatedly) garnered kudos (and high prices) in the world art market, a testament to their creativity and innovation.

Most Westerners think of Chinese art in its most traditional format: as ink painting created with brush strokes that look similar to those used in Chinese calligraphic writing. But in the nineteenth century, notions of Western modernism began to invade traditional Chinese culture. Scientific drawing, French Academic realist oil painting, and new art materials and technology challenged the tradition. Chinese reformers and artists alike undertook many aspects of modernist experimentation from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.

In 1949, when the Chinese Communists were victorious, art was designated to serve the people and the revolution. Soviet-style socialist realism became the official style. After Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 and the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), China changed into a more open society and the government eased some of its cultural control. Artists revived ink painting and explored all the international styles, including performance and new media.

Nineteenth-Century Origins

To understand the cultural changes that have influenced Chinese artists, one must briefly review the dark period that began with foreign invasions and civil wars in the mid-nineteenth century. After Britain’s victory in the First Opium War of 1839–1842 (a second war would follow from 1856 to 1860), the defeated Chinese conceded five treaty ports where foreigners could live and trade. In 1864, after a prolonged and devastating civil war conducted under the ominous presence of Western troops, the Qing imperial government forces finally triumphed over the Taiping rebellion. Chinese felt pressure after the French conquest of neighboring Vietnam, and Japan defeated China in 1895. The final blow came in 1900 when legions from the foreign treaty ports defeated the imperial troops in the Boxer rebellion.

The 1842 opening of treaty ports had allowed new influences to enter through the media of books and magazines, new technology and materials, and new visions of what the world looked like to people outside of China. Photography and various printing techniques were introduced, including Japanese-style woodblock printing, all of which were quite different from methods that had previously been available in China.

The tradition of Chinese painting in the nineteenth century looked back to the Ming-dynasty painter Dong Qichang (1555–1636), who taught a particular formula that focused on preserving images and values of the cultivated scholar. The student was to emulate his master’s work and begin by copying old Chinese paintings; such paintings were typically brushed in ink, and they depicted small figures of a scholar and friends viewing nature from a grass shack beside a steam and mountainside. Not until the aspiring artist was fifty or older was it considered possible for him to create his own style.

Many intellectuals found nineteenth-century ink painting on silk and paper to be stagnant. Paintings of idealized mountain landscapes were thought to be without energy and originality. This idyll no longer represented reality in nineteenth-century China. The multiple realities of China—from the increasingly international treaty-port cities to the seemingly pristine countryside—would all be caught up in great change. But the changes to Chinese traditional painting were subtle in the beginning, introduced one small step at a time.

Only lightly tinted watercolors were used in traditional ink paintings; brilliant colors were excluded. Confucian values taught that red, yellow, green, and blue were the only acceptable colors for decoration; any color that was mixed and had an offbeat hue, such as lavender or pea green, was considered deeply suspicious because of the potential emotional response it might evoke. One innovation brought to Chinese painting at this time was a vibrant red pigment called Western red—the name, of course, reflecting the beginnings of foreign influence.

Chinese merchants, who were prospering in the treaty ports, became new art patrons. Their taste was not as refined as that of the old elite who favored monochrome or only very pale tinted paintings, and they welcomed the new decorative and colorful paintings that were beginning to emerge.

Photography, in the form of print materials, magazines, newspapers, and pictorial calendars, made a significant difference in enlarging the Chinese vision. Landscapes and portraits of people captured through the camera’s lens became favorite subjects to replace traditional paintings. Photography, as well as Japanese woodblock prints by the famous Utagawa Hiroshige, introduced compositions with newly angled views and perspectives that gained artists’ attention. Photographs were used as backdrops in portrait studios and influenced stage-set design. Slick advertisements in print and on the boxes and wrappers of all kinds of products that poured into the treaty ports—from cigarette cards to cosmetic jars—afforded great visual variety and were ragingly popular. Lithography offered new possibilities for reproducing art and, especially, calligraphic writing, an important component in painting and other art forms. Cartoons and serial stories had new life and flexibility, and were embraced by the artists dealing in a new visual world.

Committed to Change

Traditionally the Chinese had always considered themselves to have the highest level of cultural achievement and to be the most powerful nation in the world. But by the late nineteenth century, many Chinese intellectuals realized that their civilization was not the center of the universe. (Zhongguo, Chinese for China, literally translates as Middle Kingdom.)

The most persuasive case for reforming the arts was that Western-style painting was scientific. It introduced precise drawing of the objective world using single-point perspective, shading to reveal volume, and a single light source. This kind of representation defined buildings and machines, and was the visual expression of modern science. Reformers introduced Western-style perspective drawing, mechanical drawing, and drafting into school curricula at the end of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). The Chinese dynastic system ended when the imperial troops of the Qing were defeated by the revolutionary Nationalist forces in 1911; the Qing emperor abdicated in 1912. The victors established the Republic of China (1912–1949), and the new government was committed to change. Cai Yuanpei (1867–1940), the first minister of education, called for major educational reforms and championed aesthetic education. Chinese art underwent great changes during this period while still conserving and protecting many traditional elements such as ink painting.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the first art teachers were Japanese who came to China to teach new techniques, especially technical drawing in pencil and charcoal. Included were design, plane- and three-dimensional mechanical drawing, perspective, and forms of projective geometry.

Many Chinese artists studied in Japan at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century and were influential in the changes. Among the earliest were those from Guangzhou (Canton)—Gao Jianfu (1879–1951), Gao Qifeng (1889–1933), and Chen Shuren (1884–1948)—who studied realism and sketched from nature in the style of Nihonga painting in Kyoto. They brought back a new, studied, and more realistic vision of landscape and bird and flower paintings in ink and watercolors, the traditional materials. A circle of artists gathered around them and was called the Lingnan School.

New Schools

In November 1912, after the establishment of the Republic of China, teenaged Liu Haisu (1896–1994) and two others founded the first modern art school to teach oil painting in China, the Shanghai Art Institute. Liu was a pioneer educator who welcomed both female and male students, and he introduced the practice of sketching directly from nature as well as from human models. Because it was then considered scandalous to sketch nudes and exhibit the paintings, the local warlord threatened to close the school and arrest Liu. But Liu carried on an intense campaign to legitimize his school’s practice and exhibition policy and in the end won, probably because the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek took over the area. Liu had a most important ally, scholar/modernizer Cai Yuanpei. Liu Haisu eventually traveled to Europe to exhibit his work and lecture; while there he admired and was influenced by the brilliant coloration of the post-Impressionists.

A number of traditionalists, however, such as the early twentieth-century stars Zhang Daqian (1899–1983) and Huang Binghong (1864–1955), stuck to the old ideas, using ink and paper. But they called on painters to be inventive and display a new energy within the old parameters. Huang explored a deeper level of density in black ink, creating a new, intense mood. Zhang used colors with an inventive boldness. Zhang traveled abroad and went to northwestern Gansu Province in 1942 during World War II, which the Chinese called the anti-Japanese war (especially in the context of their own War of Resistance against Japan, 1937–1945). There he copied some Buddhist cave paintings in styles and techniques from the fourth to twelfth centuries, which served as inspiration for generations of new Chinese artists in the late twentieth century.

Pan Tianshou (1898–1971) and Qi Baishi (1864–1957) were both influential in prolonging the popularity of traditional methods, yet each had his own view of how to go about it. Pan’s bird and flower compositions, painted on a new monumental scale never previously attempted, would compete in size and importance with the large official oil paintings. Qi, whose first career was carpentry, adopted humble subjects traditionally ignored by the literati elite—garden vegetables, fish, shrimp, and baskets—often painted with the brilliant red thought to be vulgar by the literati. His paintings were very popular.

Modernism in China

Not surprisingly, great interest in Modernist art began to blossom in 1919, the same period that the May Fourth literary movement flourished. Many Chinese artists returned from Japan and Europe where they had learned about the newest trends of Impressionism, post-Impressionism, Constructivism, Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Expressionism, Futurism, woodcuts, and graphic design.

Few paintings produced in those Modernist styles during the 1920s and 1930s have survived. Some were burned when the Japanese bombed Shanghai. Others were lost when refugees escaped to Chongqing, the wartime capital (1939–1945), or were destroyed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Others simply perished without proper storage.

Shanghai was the center of the Modernist movements in the 1920s and 1930s. Guan Liang (1900–1986) returned from Japan using Fauvism in his artistic explorations. Pang Xunqin (1906–1985) returned from France to Shanghai creating Surrealist compositions. They and other Modernists formed the Storm Society and Chinese Independent Art Association where they could meet, discuss, and exhibit art. In 1929 the government created the National Hangzhou Arts Academy (now called China National Academy of Art) and appointed the French-trained Lin Fengmian (1900–1991) as its head. Lin felt that artists should choose their own artistic path, which was a departure from the teachings of Xu Beihong, who wanted his protégés to follow his style.

Chinese Modernists of the 1920s and 1930s communicated with Europeans, which fueled the movement, but those lines were cut when the artists fled to western China during World War II. The Communist Party followed Stalin’s official line on Modernism as being capitalist and corrupt: Modernist artists’ led bourgeois or bohemian lives, the policy stated, thus their styles were morally unworthy for the ideals of socialism and therefore must be excluded from the cannon of revolutionary art. Religious art was considered superstitious, and some commercial art was condemned as pornographic.

Within the new media two print styles that affected change surfaced in cartoons and woodblock prints. Both were used to express disgust with a corrupt republican government that did not stand up to the invading Japanese, or help the millions of refugees, or stop its troops from looting and raping local peasants. The famous writer Lu Xun (1881–1936) encouraged the woodcut artists, who were deeply influenced by the German Expressionists and Kathe Kollwitz (1867–1945). Among the many brilliant Chinese woodblock artists, Li Hua (1907–1994) created powerful prints showing the suffering and frustration of the Chinese people; produced in multiple, they functioned as Communist propaganda handbills. These artists and cartoonists would play a major role as the Communist Party defined the new official Chinese style after 1949.

Socialist Realism

On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed from the top of the Tiananmen gateway to the old Imperial Palace that “China has stood up.” The founding of the People’s Republic of China began a new era of Chinese Communist rule, one in which art would serve the state, to quote Lenin, “like a cog in the wheel of revolution.”

In 1942, when Mao was in his wartime camp in Yan’an, he gave “Talks on Art and Literature” that set the artist’s mission. Artists must live among the peasants, he said, and “feel dung between their toes.” Only then would they undergo a class change and be able to communicate with the masses. They must paint the stories of the heroic revolutionary struggle and the triumphs of the new society.

How to achieve this new revolutionary art was an evolving strategy created by the propaganda department of the Communist Party. The first experiments were with dynamic cartoon styles, inspired by Chinese folk art, which were painted in the national-style guohua, ink and colors on paper. But soon the more dramatic socialist-realist oil-painting style of “Big Brother Soviet Union” was adopted. The style was descended from European Grand Manner compositions; nobles were re-costumed and transformed into giant workers, peasants, and soldiers breaking the chains of capitalism.

Chinese art histories claim Xu Beihong’s painting as the source for the official state socialist-realist style adopted in 1949, thus downplaying the obvious Soviet influence. The influential Xu Beihong (1895–1953) won a government scholarship to study in France in the 1920s and became an accomplished French Academic–style oil painter, totally ignoring the Western Modernist explosion that surrounded him. He devised the new style he advocated, a technique of ink painting using deep space perspective and foreshortening, to create his famous horses and giant peasants. Ink painting was revitalized, infused with realistic strength. Xu’s personal advocacy of the style, his presence as head of the Beijing Art College (which became the Central Academy of Fine Arts after 1949), and his friendship with Zhou Enlai were all factors in elevating his painting theories and style. After his death in 1953, he was officially hailed as the creator of Chinese socialist realism.

An example of official revolutionary oil painting was Dong Xiwen’s (1914–1973) Founding of the Nation (1954) showing Mao atop the balcony of Tiananmen Square as he established the People’s Republic. It became an iconic socialist-realist work. The new leadership was lined up on the side of Mao in a dramatically arranged composition inferring infinite control and a great future. The painting was widely reproduced for propaganda. But within five months one of the men in the leadership was purged, and Dong had to revise the canvas to eliminate the offender’s image. (Leadership purges would continue throughout Mao’s tenure. In 1980 a copy of the original made from a print was painted by Zhao Yu [1926–1980] and Jin Shangyi [b. 1938] to restore the original members.)

Traditional ink painting, with vague landscapes, birds, and flowers, was out of favor in 1949. It was deemed reactionary and linked to feudalism and the old society. Not surprisingly, many ink painters fought passionately to restore its position, and by 1957, when the leadership became increasingly disenchanted with Khrushchev and the Soviet Union, guohua regained status. The compositions retained the socialist-realist formulae, but ink and watercolor was the medium. The talented, old-time revolutionary Shi Lu (1919–1982) created Fighting in Northern Shaanxi (1959) in a reprogrammed ink-and-watercolor style. A small but empathic figure of Mao stands triumphantly peering over a severe rocky mountain dramatically bathed in a revolutionary red-washed landscape.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Mao’s wife Jiang Qing became China’s artistic czar, and she gave an emphatic boost to the socialist-realist style. She called for dramatic theatrical-type compositions that showed glowing heroes overcoming darkly cringing evil spies and counterrevolutionaries. The heightened glory of the revolution was meant to be evoked with strong forms and red, bright and shining; gray tones and any ambiguity were excluded. A vastly popular image of that time by Tang Xiaohe (b. 1941) and Cheng Li (b. 1941) was titled Follow Closely Our Great Leader Chairman Mao, Ride the Wind, Cleave the Waves, Fearlessly Forge Ahead (1972). Larger than life, Mao waves vigorously after his swim across the Yangzi (Chang) River amidst a regatta of red flags. This served to document Mao’s vigor and ability to rule China.

A New Generation Experiments

The death of Mao in 1976, the trials of the Gang of Four, and the new leadership of Deng Xiaoping changed China. In 1979 the country saw a de-emphasis of the class struggle and new policies focused on economic development toward a market economy, which would transform the art establishment. The government was no longer the sole patron, and its iron grip was slipping away. Young artists, such as Chen Yifei (1946–2005) and Han Xin (b. 1955), pushed the official party-line limits of style and content.

In Looking at History from My Space (1979) Chen Yifei abandoned the dramatic compositional buildup of the old socialist-realist, proscenium-stage style and painted himself—with his back to the viewer and his empty studio chair off to the side—observing cinematic episodes depicting events from Chinese history in the early twentieth century. The result is a portrait of an individual artist who in the previous era would have been assigned the role of a proletarian art worker among the masses—and who, it seems, now separates himself from the events and the glorification of them.

In late September 1979 some young artists who called themselves “Star Stars” created work in the previously taboo abstract styles, with political and sexual content. They hung an unauthorized exhibition outside the National Art Gallery for two days until the police removed it. This was the beginning of experimental art in a changing China. One member of that group, the young Ai Weiwei (b. 1957), was a profound devotee of Marcel Duchamp and the Dadaists, and he consistently made jokes about the establishment. Ai would go on to become an architectural consultant in building the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The 1980s was a decade of change, although many ink painters sought to revive once more the primacy of traditional ink painting with vague landscapes, birds, and flowers. But many young artists broke out of the official approved styles into experimental modes. Two outstanding artists who worked with ink created new formulae for handling calligraphy, traditionally considered a sacred cannon of Chinese writing. Gu Wenda (known in the West as Wenda Gu) partially erased character strokes in his calligraphic pieces, and Xu Bing created printed books with two thousand new characters that have no meaning. Each was toying with the pillars of the established culture, suggesting its impotence and irrelevance.

In 1989 the National Art Gallery invited Gao Minglu, a curator interested in experimental art, to mount an exhibition. Huang Yongping showed a blob of mushy paper on a block titled The History of Chinese Art and the History of Modern Western Art after Two Minutes in the Washing Machine. Wu Shanzhuan sold shrimp at a food stand in order to express his “shock” that China’s new market economy was so contrary to Maoist principles. But the most dramatic piece was performed by Xiao Lu, who reproduced two phone booths side by side inhabited by male and female dummies talking. Xiao had a gun and shot the figures in the phone booths with live ammunition. The police arrested her and her boyfriend, a collaborator, and shut the show down. This was less than six months before 4 June 1989, when the students leading the Democracy movement, which called for end of official corruption and more voice in governance, were crushed at Tiananmen Square.

Performance Art

Performance had become a favored method of expression by 1989, and those Tiananmen events were documented by film and video, media that would become the cornerstone of a new visual culture in China. Pioneering video artists Zhang Peilei scandalized his audiences by washing a chicken repeatedly for a half hour. In Brooklyn Sky: Digging a Hole in Beijing (1995), Wang Gongxin commented ironically on the Western fantasy of digging one’s way to China. He placed a video monitor in a deep, 3-meter-wide hole near his residence in Beijing from which he played footage of the Brooklyn sky. Video artists from Shanghai, such as Yang Fudong and Yang Zhenzhong, have produced parodies of pretentious intellectuals, imitating old style literati and other provocative themes.

In the 1990s Guangzhou’s Big Tail Elephant group comprised some very talented artists who poked fun at the folly of officialdom. Lin Yilin created a video piece, Safely Maneuvered Through Lin He Street, acting out the irrational nature of traffic, barriers, and drivers—official rules and noncompliance resulting in nonsense.

High-tech photography arrived in China in the early 1990s and transformed the use of the medium, previously relegated to portraiture and posed propaganda scenes. Experimental artists, such as Zhang Huan, had himself photographed and filmed while he sat in a village latrine covered in honey and fish oil, an inviting feast for flies. This stunning anti-official act of art, which commented on Zhang’s personal living conditions, was photographed by several of this new breed of photographers, including Rong Rong and Xing Danwen. Shao Yinong and Muchen have photographed derelict official meeting halls all over China, preserving in pictures of these abandoned buildings their uncompromising beauty and a nostalgia for the time when they were vital centers of Communist Party power. It was in these halls that the class struggle was acted out.

Pyrotechnics, which are powered by explosives invented by the Chinese in the ninth century, are endemic to Chinese emphatic moments. Cai Guo-Qiang grew up among the makers of fireworks in southern Fujian Province and has pioneered the use of explosives to create works of art. His pyrotechnic creations have been set off all over the world against the backdrops of sky, landscape, earth, architecture, and even paper—his earliest experiments with gunpowder in his drawings led to his explorations with explosives on a larger scale—and all have been recorded as video performance.

In 1995, for the International Women’s Conference, Lin Tianmiao created Proliferation of Thread Winding, a bed with hundreds of weaving threads attached like a glorious full skirt. In the middle of the bed, an elongated oval shape suggesting the female sex organ was filled with densely packed protruding iron needles. A video of the artist winding the threads was projected on the pillow. Lin invokes the mythology of the Chinese mythical progenitors, when the weaving maiden crosses the Milky Way to meet the herd boy, as well as the female’s primary reproductive function.

Realism, Pop Art, and the New Century

Amidst all the experimentation during the decades after Mao’s death, the mainstream teaching at China’s art academies continued to focus on French Academy–style realism, drawing from life to get accurate images of the subject. Although experimental artists have totally rejected the practice of this art, it continues to be a basic reference for many. Chen Danqing grew up and was mainly self-taught during the Cultural Revolution until he entered the first reopened class in 1979 for a master of arts at the Central Arts Academy. His work was admired for its unenhanced, straightforward depictions of people, without the official propaganda pitch. He greatly admired Rembrandt and Holbein. Another realist painter of that generation, Liu Xiaodong, also paints ordinary folk but usually with a stinging, acidic comment on naughty youth and corrupt officialdom. Yu Hong paints her autobiography and the story of other women in a realist idiom. In the years after the 1989 Tiananmen riots, Fang Lijun painted himself, his bald head echoing an open-mouthed scream to no one. The image has a monumental intensity.

Zhang Xiaogang, an artist whose work has been represented and auctioned by some of the world’s most renowned galleries, paints his family in Bloodlines, a series of primarily black and white realist group portraits set against a backdrop of surreal clouds or seemingly covered by fine mist. On each face one colored splotch of paint suggests some kind of birthmark or skin affliction. The figures are linked to each other by thin red veins, the bloodlines that are the conduits between generations. In some works of the series Zhang uses the bloodlines to link the figures’ hearts to tiny TVs, speakers, radios, or books. Thus the paintings can be interpreted to reveal their subjects’ individual dysfunctions through the skin discolorations and to comment on thecollective heritage they are fed through their cultural surround.

Realist training also lies below the pop art surfaces of Yue Minjun’s laughing faces meant to mock the establishment. His simplified figures could just as well cry out in anger and frustration, but he makes his point by allowing them laugh. Qi Zhilong also comes from this realist background into the pop art realm, with his “sweet young things,” pig-tailed women dressed in khakis that suggests the military garb worn during the Cultural Revolution. They are the fresh faces of advertising and film who could invite a world of consumption or lead a life of service. Surely these virginal portraits were meant to invite prurient thoughts.

Wang Guangyi paints in another pop art vein in the Great Criticism series. He creates boldly colored dramatic socialist-realist compositions in which groups of muscular, oversized workers march with pens instead of guns and are juxtaposed against corporate logos from international giants such as Coca Cola. He advertises what he sees as the sellout of the proletariat to capitalism. Yet in other pop views, Li Shan’s Rouge series of the 1990s presents a pinky-red setting for a suggestively feminized Mao holding a lily in his mouth. At the same time, Yu Youhan painted the Communist leadership as faceless cutouts made from charming folk textiles. The three Luo brothers, originally from Guangxi province, have produced a unique and garishpop style of old and new, using traditional New Year’s babies, for instance to promote McDonalds’ hamburgers and Coca Cola. Their medium is collaged paper that is lacquered on wood.


Sculpture is a relatively new medium to the Chinese art scene. Two outstanding practitioners are Sui Jianguo and Zhan Wan. Sui has produced breathlessly militant and triumphant socialist-realist groups of figures, according to the Maoist cannon calling for the glorification of workers, peasants, and soldiers. But he also has produced fire-engine-red fiberglass Dinosaurs in sizes from tiny to enormous, and appropriated parts of Mao’s imagery (and his closet), such as the Mao Jacket, the Shoes (are they filled with clay?) and the Left Hand for that medium as well. Zhan Wan is the favored traditionalist because he reproduces in stainless steel the weirdly shaped and pitted stones featured in Chinese gardens. The shiny silver material puts the sculpture in the twenty-first century, but its image recalls old Chinese culture. This was the goal of the modernizing reformers a hundred years ago.

As China’s economic success in recent decades has lead to a renewed leadership role in world affairs, so too have its artists taken a new place on the world stage. Their creations have marched into the forefront of international markets. Beginning in the year 2000, when China’s world image as a great power became internationally acknowledged, its artists began to make an impact in the world art market. By 2008, auctions in Hong Kong and New York sold work by a small group of artists like Zhang Xiaogang and Cai Guo-qiang for more than two million dollars, with other Chinese artists commanding increasingly high prices. The speed of this leap from domestic to global in the early years of the new millennium is an affirmation of China’s creativity and innovation. Even if belated, this recognition in the art world has been welcomed by the Chinese, as they achieve a difficult feat: to create new art is both international and truly Chinese.

Further Reading

Andrews, J., & Kuiyi Shen. (Eds.). (2003). A Century in crisis: Modernity and tradition in the art of twentieth-century China. New York: Guggenheim Museum.

Art scene China. (2008). Retrieved November 20, 2008, from

Cohen, J. L., & Cohen, J. A. (1975). China Today and Her Ancient Treasures. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Cohen, J. L. (1987). The New Chinese Painting, 1949–1986. New York: Harry N. Abrams

Crozier, R. (1988). Art and revolution in modern China: The Lingnan (Cantonese) school of Painting, 1906–1951. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Goldman, M. (1977). Modern Chinese literature in the May Fourth era. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Spence, J. D. (1990). The search for modern China. New York: W. W. Norton.

Source: Lebold Cohen, Joan. (2009). Art, Contemporary. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 94–105. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Historical illustration of young Chinese man painting in the Western style.

An older Liu Haisu making art. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

A painting of fish and crabs by Qi Baishi, whose first profession was carpentry, favored mundane subjects ignored by the elite. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

A painting by Lin Fengmian (portrait of a woman reading). PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

Woodblock print from the Lu Xun Memorial Exhibit. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

Wang Dong Ling, with his painting Chinese Art Meets West (Twin Fish). PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

Han Xin, seated in front of his painting Crucifixion, 1991. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

Contemporary sculpture outside of the Yan Club Arts Center. PHOTO BY YIXUAN SHUKE.

Art, Contemporary (D?ngdài Zh?ngguó yìshù ??????)|D?ngdài Zh?ngguó yìshù ?????? (Art, Contemporary)

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