Spilt Ink: Aesthetic Globalization and Contemporary Chinese Art

British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (1):1-16 (2012)
In response to globalization, is there to be a single, homogeneous set of aesthetic values governing the production and consumption of art? I focus on a newcomer to globalized contemporary art, China, and argue that artworld art is far from the only art currently being produced. I describe four connected kinds of art currently made in China: Modernist, traditional, and avant-garde, which are artworld art, and mass commercial, which is not. Practices in all four conform to expectations globally that Chinese art of all kinds should exemplify imitation, emulation, and copying. Such conformity entails what Winnie Wong has termed ‘staging Chineseness’. I conclude with an examination of this process in two recent exhibitions before proposing that a proliferation of a variety of values is unavoidable while contemporary artworld practitioners continue to introduce local concerns, and while the self-claimed high status of artworld art is progressively challenged by the vitality worldwide of non-artworld art. While some of these values are resistant to Western globalizing homogenization, others conform to it
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayr052
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