Art and politics in China, 1949-1986
The objective of this thesis is to examine the complex pattern of the relationship between politics and art in the People’s Republic of China between 1949 and 1986, analysing the three most important aspects of this relationship , namely organisational structures, the ideological framework and political movements. The principal issue addressed in this research is that of how the Communist Party's policies on culture and art have affected the development of art theory and the creative work of artists in China. The thesis consists of four chapters representing the major historical stages of the People's Republic of China. Each chapter focuses on the different manifestations of the relationship between politics and art in aparticular social phase. Chapter one deals with the early formation of the organisational structures , the ideological framework and political campaigns in the arena of Chinese culture and art between 1949 and 1956. Chapter two examines the further development and the vacillating nature of the relationship between the state and artists during the years 1957 to 1966. Chapter three looks at the stormy years of the Cultural Revolution during which the political discourse and artistic work were merged. The fourth Chapter discusses the new trends of Chinese art by describing the newly emerging "self" (individual subjectivity) and the search for modernity in the period of 1978 to 1986. The general methodology employed in my thesis is composed of three dimensions - social, historical and comparative. The analysis of the social conditions and the general account of the historical process are closely combined with individual case studies. A comparative perspective is also adopted in order to reveal the extent of foreign influence. The central argument submitted in the thesis is that art in the People's Republic of China should be seen as an image of social reality. The argument is pursued by a method which seeks to relate art to social-political settings, and to explore not only the aesthetic dimension of artistic work, but also the political discourse embodied in it.