Realism, socialist realism and China’s avant-garde
A historical perspective
in Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution
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This chapter outlines the longue durée of Chinese political art from the 1940s onwards. Tracing the shift in China from realism to socialist realism and then to socially engaged avant-garde art, it argues that beneath such transformations was a redefinition of art and its epistemological relation to national identity and societal change. Interrogating paradigmatic shifts of political discourse and artistic praxis, Yan Geng’s contribution uncovers the roots of contemporary Chinese art and explains the complex relationships that exist between the cultural production of the revolution and the art of post-Maoist China.

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