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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the prominent role of the amateur artist in the conception of communist visual culture in China during the Maoist years (1949–1976). Focusing on two groups of amateur art manuals for the promotion of producing visual arts and meishuzi by the nonartists of the general public, this study reveals the dynamic process of changing authorship and the public nature of the amateur arts in the People’s Republic. In offering detailed explanations of core artistic concepts, techniques, and model examples, the manuals reflect an institutional management of the amateur artists and their creative impulses. Authored by professional artists, but intended for amateurs, the manuals speak of ideological tensions at play in the communist effort of bringing the arts to the people.

Keywords: authorship, amateur art, People’s Republic of China, Maoist period, painting manuals, copybooks, public art, meishuzi, calligraphy, Wu Zuoren

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