Visual Culture in Communist China

observing, analyzing & re-presenting the art of twentieth century china

January 21, 2019
by agadzhad

Pu Ru

Image result for pu ru

Pu Ru was a traditional Chinese painter and calligrapher and cousin of Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China. He was born as Pu Xinyu on August 30, 1896, in Beijing, China, as a member of the Manchu royal family (Pu Ru). Puru was once selected as a potential candidate to succeed the Guangxu Emperor, but his cousin Puyi was the chosen one. Pu Ru went on to study astronomy and biology at the University of Berlin(Biography of Pu Ru). After returning to China in 1922 he spent many years in the mountains at the Jie Tai Monastery perfecting his calligraphy and painting techniques. He began to collaborate with the well-known Beijing painter Zhang Daqian, and together they became known as the “South Zhang and North Pu”(Biography of Pu Ru). Following the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, he fled to Taiwan, where he made a living selling his work. In 1949, he was appointed a professor at National Taiwan Normal University. Pu Ru was praised for his all-around talents in the Chinese tradition and, in spite of his Western education, advocated for traditional Chinese painting. In 1959, he held a comprehensive exhibition of his works at the National Museum of History in Taipei. The artist died in Taiwan on November 18, 1963.

“Ru Ru”, Pu Xinyu shu hua ji
Biography of Pu Ru,

January 21, 2019
by meyersr

Ai Weiwei (b. 1957)

Ai Weiwei is unique in his field, as he uses art to comment on social and political issues. Living and working in Beijing, his Western artistic educational background has caused a great deal of controversy. After attending Parsons School of Design, Ai mainly worked as a painter in the beginning of his career. He has since done work in a variety of other media such as sculpture, installations, photography, literary pieces, and various public projects (Cunningham 2018). Ai has been arrested, beaten up by the police, had his studio destroyed, and has been subject to governmental surveillance (The Art Story). He is one of the first conceptual artists to use social media to present his work. He used his social media platform to criticize officials for withholding information about the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. The Chinese government, having censored details about the schools which collapsed and the 80,000 victims, began to view Ai Weiwei as a threat when he made art drawing attention to only a fraction of the lives lost in the earthquake (The Guardian 2018). He continues to make art commenting on controversial issues.

Ai Weiwei dropping an ancient ceremonial urn


“Ai Weiwei Overview and Analysis.” The Art Story.

John M. Cunningham. “Ai Weiwei.” Britannica Online Academic Edition, October 24, 2018.

Weiwei, Ai. “Ai Weiwei: The Artwork That Made Me the Most Dangerous Person in China.” The Guardian. February 15, 2018

January 20, 2019
by cachonq

Monument to the People’s Heroes

Tienanmen Square is a plaza in the center of Beijing, China. Tienanmen Square is a historical and social landmark in China. In the center of Tienanmen Square, there is the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The monument was built as a way of honoring those who died in the revolutionary conflicts that inflicted China. The monument was proposed in 1949 and then completed in 1958. According to Hung Wu, author of Remaking Beijing, “The Monument to the People’s Heroes gave visual form to the regime’s revised understanding of history under socialism.” The designers of the sculpture are Lin Huiyin and Liang Sicheng. The monument is also designed in a way of chronological order of events in China’s history. These events include: the opium war, May 4th Movement in 1919, the resistance against Japan, etc. The monument provides a visual representation of the Chinese government’s history under socialist rule. Other than the monument’s representation and meaning, the structure has an empowering build which lays at the center providing a sense of strength of China’s history and government.

Monument to the Peoples Heroes.” Beijing Impression, 13 June 2014,

Hung, Wu. Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space. 2005.

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