Although numerous books on the Cultural Revolution have been published, they do not analyze the profound shift in aesthetic values that occurred in China after the Communists took power. This fascinating book is the first to focus on artwork produced from the 1950s to the 1970s, when Mao Zedong was in leadership, and argues that important contributions were made during this period that require fuller consideration in Chinese art history, especially with relevance to the contemporary world.
Previously, historians have tended to dismiss the art of the Cultural Revolution as pure propaganda. The authors of this volume (historians, art historians, and artists) argue that while much art produced during this time was infused with politics, and individual creativity and displays of free thought were sometimes stifled and even punished, it is short sighted to overlook the aesthetic sophistication, diversity, and accessibility of much of the imagery.
Bringing together more than 200 extraordinary artworks, including oil paintings, ink scroll paintings, artist sketchbooks, posters, and objects from daily life, as well as primary documentation that has not been published outside of China or seen since the mid-20th century, this invaluable volume sheds new light on one of the most controversial and critical periods in history.
Melissa Chiu is director of the Asia Society Museum. Zheng Shengtian is an independent curator and has organized many international exhibitions. He has served as editor for various art publications, including Yishu-Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art.