The Institutionalization and Legitimatization of Guohua : Art Societies in Republican Shanghai

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Pedith Chan

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-570
Journal / PublicationModern China
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


This article examines guohua societies established in Republican Shanghai to show how the young generation of artists appropriated discursive practices to institutionalize and legitimatize guohua in the face of political and cultural upheaval. In the early Republican period, artistic practices underwent significant change as a result of major changes in the larger cultural and social context: the blooming of new media, the reform of the educational system, and the rise of urban culture. This article explores various aspects of guohua societies within a sociocultural context: the structure, the societal activities, the membership, and the attitudes toward art practice. Adopting Pierre Bourdieu's concept of artistic field, it argues that the transformation in the attitude toward guohua as well as the practice of art in general in modern China is not merely the result of the Western impact but a major consideration of the rules of the artistic field. © The Author(s) 2013.

Research Area(s)

  • art society, artistic field, guohua, modern Chinese art, modernity