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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26195

Title: Artists Under Reform: An Analysis of Professional Chinese Guohua Painters' Relation to the State in the Post-Mao Era
Authors: Kao, Yao-Hsing
Advisor: Falkenheim, Victor
Department: Political Science
Keywords: guohua, Chinese national painting, Chinese professional guohua painters, party-state, political autonomy,
Issue Date: 15-Feb-2011
Abstract: This thesis is purposefully limited to examining the status of China’s professional guohua (Chinese national painting) painters and their relation to the Party-State. It tackles the above subject by studying the contents of important official documents issued by the party-state, by retelling the interactions between professional guohua painters and the party-state in several crucial social-political contexts, and by analysing the experiences, opinions, observations and critiques of four professional guohua painters. The time span of this study extends from 1949 to the late 1990s, while acknowledging the year of 1978, when China officially launched its reform program, as a critical dividing juncture for comparative reasons. This thesis finds that a new favorable partnership was forged between the party-state and the professional guohua painters in the reform era. This was due to the impact of China’s political culture, changes in the ideology and policies of the ruling elite, the commercialization of art, and an emerging need to preserve guohua that is more instrumental to promote China’s cultural heritage and national soft power. It argues that the sustainability of such a partnership has been reinforced through a conscious differentiation between categories of art -- elite and non-elite, official and non-official, high and popular, public and non-public -- by Chinese cultural authorities as well as the artists themselves. This thesis further asserts that the significantly improved economic conditions and the social status that professional guohua painters enjoyed in the 1980s and 1990s did not reflect on their cultural and political autonomy. Most of them consciously chose to be part of the institutional establishments under the party-state and showed limited aspiration in the quest for cultural and political autonomy. The “organized dependence” of professional guohua painters prior to the reform era was replaced by “conformity” of these artists towards the party-state. Finally it suggests that, although China’s changing political environment will eventually give way to economics and the scale of ideological movements and cultural control will continue to decline, many professional guohua painters are likely to stay within the ideological and aesthetic boundaries set by the party-state and to be part of official arts agencies and institutions.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26195
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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