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Art and Visuality in Contemporary China: 1949-2000



Chinese contemporary art has recently enjoyed unprecedented international attention: Chinese artists are regularly invited to major international exhibitions and cultural events around the world and some of their works have reached phenomenal market values. In many cases, though, this artistic production is considered as separated from socio-political context that have shaped culture in China since the rise to power of the Communist Party. This course will support the visibility of contemporary Chinese art by introducing the main policies, figures and institutions that have marked the production of art in China since the rise to power of the Communist Party.

Time table

Click here for the timetable.

Teaching method


Classes will introduce figures, styles and genres, mostly with the aid of slides/Blackboard. Students are expected to play an active role during classes in offering their own views and questions.
Reading will be set for preparation between classes. Students are expected to read these set texts in out-of-class hours and to discuss what they have read when the class assembles. Each week’s assignment will demand a minimum input of three to four hours, including preparatory reading and familiarization with visual material.

Admission requirements

Students will be expected to think critically about the issues presented. Comparison and incorporation of areas of specific interest to the student are encouraged. To this end, evaluation will be based on class discussion, familiarity with the material and the elaboration of individual ways of assessing artists, trends and specific issues through the analysis of their socio-political context of production.
Slide test will be based on images identification, requiring a discussion of the images on the basis of their social and/or political context of production.

Course objectives

The course’s main goal is to provide an overview of the development of visual production in China during the last 50 years and to familiarize students with the main figures and issues defining this period.
This is a third year course, so the content is designed for students with at least a basic understanding of historical or cultural conditions in 20th century China or for Art History students with a knowledge of 20th century Western art and currents.

Course load

5 EC * 28 hours = 140 hours

Required reading

Texts will be stipulated for reading in preparation for class. A reader will be prepared and additional reading suggested or made available on a reserve shelf in the Sinological Library.

Test method

  • Classwork (discussion and slide tests): 30%

  • Short Essay (Article Review/Essay proposal) 30%

  • Essay 40%

Guidelines for preparation of written work and the criteria for grading will be duly provided.


For further information about the course, please contact the teacher:


Through U-TWIST (see ‘Aanmeldprocedures voor colleges en tentamens’ – in Dutch)