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Focusing on the New China

A public program focusing on the New China is held at the Getty Center.

February 10, 2011 7:00pm to 12:00am

China has long excelled at erasing its past, whether by the censor's pen or the demands of commercial development. In the last decades of the 20th century, many of Beijing's traditional neighborhoods, courtyards, and shopping centers were bulldozed to build new commercial districts, gated communities, and tourist attractions. The Cultural Revolution demanded the elimination of "the four olds"—culture, customs, habits, and ideas. This not only destroyed existing works of art, but required contemporary artists to adapt new genres like social realism.

What the West considers the most iconic photograph of modern China, Charlie Cole's picture of the lone protestor standing before a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square, is unknown to most Chinese. But today, a new generation of Chinese artists are harking back to old forms—incorporating pre-Revolution imagery, centuries-old dynastic painting techniques, and allusions to the Mao era—to comment on contemporary Chinese politics and culture. Presented with Zócalo Public Square, this panel explores creativity, capitalism, and the conflict between past and present.

Qingyun Ma, dean, USC School of Architecture
Melissa Chiu, director, Asia Society Museum
Shiming Gao, curator, China Art Academy, Shanghai
Wenda Gu, New York and Shanghai-based artist