Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster

Second Advisor

Stanley Kwong


Throughout the history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), art has always been state-dominated and driven by governmental and political agendas. In comparison to fellow artists in the Western world, historically, Chinese artists have lacked the freedom to express their passion and creativity through artistic forms. The contemporary art movement in China, however, maneuvers around this challenge and provides a more positive direction—one in which artists have a stronger voice and economic benefits are combined with governmental support and encouragement of art activities that enhance social capital and one’s habitus. To some extent, this is changing, with the first significant emergence of liberalization, and the rise of artist voices in the post-Mao period. China’s art market is not only booming domestically but it has opened up to the world market over the past 20 years. This affirmative phenomenon was proven by a striking purchase of a Chinese antique vase sold at auction for $86 million. Moreover, China’s contemporary art is part of learned by China’s powerful historical arts and crafts, and previous popular in art villages. Art villages, which include Beijing’s 798 Art District, have established art studios, galleries, and local exhibitions that support modern day artists as well as expand China’s collections. In recent years, village artists create various forms of visual representation and expression through paintings in order to transform the contemporary art of China. In sum, this research paper examines the rapid transformation of Chinese art, its emergence as in an economic tool, and art as a mode to express one’s freedom of speech.