1st Edition

Art History, Narratology, and Twentieth-Century Chinese Art

By Lian Duan Copyright 2024
    230 Pages 5 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 5 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This study constructs a framework of narratology for art history and rewrites the development of twentieth-century Chinese art from a narratological perspective.

    Theoretically and methodologically oriented, this is a self-reflective meta-art history studying the art historical narratives while narrating the story of modern and contemporary Chinese art. Thus, this book explores the three layers of narrative within the narratological framework: the first-hand fabula, the secondary narration, and the tertiary narrativization. With this tertiary narrativization, the reader-author presents three types of narrative: the grand narrative of the central thesis of this book, the middle-range narrative of the chapter theses, and case analyses supporting these theses. The focus of this tertiary narrativization is the interaction between Western influence on Chinese art and the Chinese response to this influence. The central thesis is that this interaction conditioned and shaped the development of Chinese art at every historical turning point in the twentieth century.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, critical theory, Chinese studies, and cultural studies.

    Introduction: A Meta-Art History  1. Before 1949: Context and Modern Art  2. Since 1949: Possible Author and Realist Art  3. 1979-1985: Textual Space and Historical Transformation  4. 1985-1989: Unfolding the Events of the Avant-Garde Movement  5. The 1990s: The Postmodern Characterization 6. Towards a Conclusion: Conceptual Art through to the 2020s


    Lian Duan is a senior lecturer in Chinese at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

    "This is a remarkable book about a number of complex topics. Among these are the writing of art history in general, the history of twentieth-century Chinese art in particular and the analysis of selected contemporary Chinese artworks. Above all, Duan demonstrates a reflective stance on his vast and fascinating subject, without a trace of ideological dogma."

    --David Pariser, Concordia University, Montreal



    "This is an imaginative work deploying an impressive blend of narratives and narratology to illuminate twentieth-century Chinese art – especially the complex period after World War II. It offers a welcome cross-cultural approach to both art practice and its understanding."

    --Paul Crowther, University of Galway, Ireland


    "Lian Duan’s remarkable insight that Chinese artists have been deeply influenced by Western thought gives us a valuable and unexpected path for understanding modern Chinese art. Duan elaborates several (Western) cultural perspectives revealing the underlying aesthetics and influences that gradually drew Chinese art and artists away from traditional motives and motifs."

    --David Burton, Virginia Commonwealth University