Politicalizing Art in Mao and Post-Mao Era

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As Carlos Ginsburg pointed out, “What is much harder to reject in principle (but also as much harder and more laborious to achieve) is an analytical reconstruction of the intricate web of minute relations that underlies the production of any work of art, however simple” , my project will zoom in the process of visualization of the socialist China and post-socialist China from a cultural-microhistorical perspective—propaganda poster, stamp and philately, political pop art—to figure out the continuity and discontinuity of this process, and the relations of art and politics. In a micro level, the trajectory of this thesis will follow the discussion of the visualization history of socialist China and post-socialist China, and the relation between art and politics in Mao and post-Mao era. Rather than simply using the visual analysis as main research method, based on the primary archives and secondary resources, I will choose artwork, art collector, and artist as the three typical cases with different research methodologies, including iconography, gender studies, etc. From discussing the propaganda posters’ positive and negative influences to political movements in 1950s and 1960s (Chapter 1), further to the complicated roles of stamp collector and how it embedded with official and individual discourses in 1960s and 1970s (Chapter 2), finally to the mislabeled political pop art of Wang Guangyi’s work in 1980s and 1990s (Chapter 3), this thesis aims to offer a possible way to understand the politicalizing art process in modern Chinese history.






Zhang, Luming (2020). Politicalizing Art in Mao and Post-Mao Era. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20816.


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