Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Global Arts and Cultures

First Advisor

Jung Joon Lee

Second Advisor

Avishek Ganguly


This thesis is to destabilize the Western dominant understanding of contemporary Chinese art when it circulates on the global art market, such as the all-to-common narratives only celebrating Chinese artists who are politically criticizing or resist the Chinese authority. Meanwhile, I also question the authority control inside of China, especially the mainstream criteria of aesthetics and art. Cultural anthropologist Aihwa Ong observes that some Western scholars believe contemporary Chinese art to be “crass opportunism with reduced aesthetic value.”Chinese American artist and art critic Chen Danqing criticizes contemporary Chinese art from the last ten years as too utilitarian: “During the Cultural Revolution, all [Chinese] artists worried about their artworks not being ‘revolutionary’; today, I see they only worry about their ‘tricks’ are not ‘contemporary’ enough.” He critically argued that Chinese art today is a consequence of learning Western art due to a lack of cultural confidence.

I argue that contemporary Chinese art is not market-driven or simply copy Western arts. It has been shaped by the context of its particular socio-political and economic condition since the middle of the twentieth century. I also emphasize the specialness of “contemporaneity” in contemporary Chinese art.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.