Online Workshop: Art History of Socialist China – A State-of-the-Field Discussion

Date of event:   18/06/2021 − 19/06/2021

Title: Art History of Socialist China: A State-of-the-Field Discussion
Format: Online workshop on Zoom
Date: Friday and Saturday, 18 and 19 June 2021, 14:00 CEST
Organized by: Juliane Noth (Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar, Universit├Ąt Hamburg)

In recent years, scholars of Maoist China have increasingly explored the use of images, displays, and other visual materials and how they were deployed for political ends. What remains largely absent from these studies are, paradoxically, the visual and aesthetic qualities of the images and media in question, their agency and that of their creators, and thus the possibility that they might offer ambiguous and multilayered readings. Art historians on the other hand, who are trained to analyze and interpret images, have shown more interest in art-specific discourses and how individual artists responded to given tasks or settings on a formal or iconographical level. Indeed, the assumption that images produced in Maoist China possessed a lot of political, but very little artistic value might be one reason why a comparatively small number of art-historical studies have been written on Chinese art from the period between 1949 and 1979. It is only recently that several new studies have begun to more fully assess the complexity of artistic production between political exigencies and aesthetic choices. In this workshop, we will discuss methodological issues and case studies which allow us to seek new perspectives on the image production of that period as well as the relation between art, propaganda, and visual culture in a broader sense.


  • Yi Gu (University of Toronto)
  • Christine I. Ho (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Juliane Noth (Universit├Ąt Hamburg)
  • Claire Roberts (University of Melbourne)
  • Zheng Shengtian (Institute of Asian Art, Vancouver Art Gallery/Simon Fraser University).

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Programme in PDF