Educator Resources

China 1980s: Art in the Age of Social Transformation

About this resource:
How does art reflect and respond to social transformation? The 1980s was an important period in the establishment of today’s China, where changing ideologies led to shifts in social and cultural values and expressions.

Content of this video is derived from Teaching Labs: Contemporary Context Series talk "China 1980s: Art in the Age of Social Transformation", which is part of the Contemporary Context Series. 

Speaker: Anthony Yung, AAA Researcher

Voice Over: Janet Chan

Language: Cantonese

Total Length: 54 minutes

 

I. The development of art in China in the early 20th century

Length: 12 minutes

I. The development of art in China in the early 20th century

Keywords:

Realism, Socialism, New Cultural Movement, Yan’an Art Movement, New Year Illustration Movement, propaganda, Soviet Union's socialist realism, revolutionary romanticism and revolutionary realism

Supplementary materials: Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990

 

II. The major shifts in social and cultural values and expressions during the 1980s

Length: 27 minutes

II. The major shifts in social and cultural values and expressions during the 1980s

Keywords:

Pragmatism, experimentalism, retaining traditional medium, ontological revolution, hyperrealism, paintings of peasants and minorities, memories of the Cultural Revolution (e.g. struggle sessions), anti-realism, self-taught artists, self-organised exhibitions, abstraction, installation art, proposal art

 

III. Extended research topics on the evolution of social attitudes and ways of thinking

Length: 15 minutes

II. The major shifts in social and cultural values and expressions during the 1980s

Keywords:

Research Topic 1: Art schools-- pedagogy and libraries

Research Topic 2: Significant areas in China

Research Topic 3: Foreign exhibitions

Research Topic 4: Reading and publications

Supplementary materials: Interview with Zhang Xiaogang

 

Guided questions:

  1. How would you compare the context of art development in 1980's China with your own cultural background?
  2. What comparisons can be drawn between the art of China and that of your own country?