Chronology of Chinese Art (1949 – 1979)

Art events in blue / Political events in black


January 31, The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Nationalist Army General Fu Zuoyi reach an agreement, allowing the former to peacefully occupy Beijing. 

February 15, National Peking College of Arts is taken over by the new communist People’s 



April, The “New Guohua (Chinese Painting)” exhibition is held in Beijing’s Zhongshan Park.  

April 21, Mao Zedong and Zhu De issue the order of anabasis.  

April 23, The PLA occupies Nanjing.

May 25, The PLA enters Shanghai.


May 29, The Shanghai newspaper Dagongbao announces the communal proclamation that 

Shanghai artists support both the Communist Party and the PLA. 

July 2, The All China Congress of Literary and Arts Workers is held in Beijing. Eighty-eight representative visual artists attended the conference.

July 19, The China Federation of Literary and Art Circles is established.

September 15, The Shanghai Art Workers Association stages its first executive council meeting, at which Liu Kaiqu is elected as the director and Mi Gu and Chen Yanqiao are appointed as vice directors.

September 21, The first meeting of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is held in Beijing. 

September, Liu Kaiqu, Jiang Feng, Mo Pu, and Pang Xunqin go to Hangzhou and take control of the National Hangzhou College of Arts. Jiang Feng assumes the position of party secretary, and Liu Kaiqu is appointed as the president. 

October 1, A grand ceremony is held in Tiananmen Square. Mao Zedong declares the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).


January 1, The Beijing Municipal People’s Art Studio is established, and Hu Man is appointed director.

February 1, The Chinese Art Workers Association’s publication People’s Art is launched. Wang Zhaowen and Li Hua become its executive editors. In October, after its fifth issue, publication is stopped. 

February, The China-USSR Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance is signed.

April 1, National Peking College of Arts and Northern China University’s Third Department of Fine Arts are merged to form the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), with Xu Beihong as president.

April 16, The Ministry of Culture issues the New Year’s Painting Creation Prize for 1950. 

May, Following an order from the Ministry of Culture, the faculty of CAFA completes a group of revolutionary historical paintings. These include Wang Shikuo’s oil painting Joining Forces at Jingang Mountain, Dong Xiwen’s oil painting Swiftly Across the Dadu River, Ai Zhongxin’s oil painting Chairman Mao Organizes the Marxist Study Group in 1920. Dong Xiwen begins his oil painting The Founding Ceremony of the Nation

June, The Land Reform Law of the PRC is enacted. 

June 25,The Korean War begins.

October 1, A Chinese art exhibition is held in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

October 8, Mao issues the order for the “Chinese People’s Volunteer Army” (PVA) to fight “American imperialism.” Chinese troops enter North Korea.

November 7, The National Hangzhou College of Arts was formally renamed the East China Campus of the Central Academy of Fine Arts.


January 31, The PLA enters Tibet. Many Tibetan monks and people flee for India. 

March 1, The national New Year’s painting exhibition is held in Beijing; 440 New Year’s paintings created by artists from various regions are displayed. 

April 3, Mao Zedong writes an epigraph, “Let a hundred flowers bloom, weed through the old to bring forth the new,” for the newly established Research Institute for Chinese Opera.

The “Soviet Propaganda Paintings and Caricatures” exhibition” is held at the CAFA.

May 18, “Resist the U.S. and Aid Korea” painting and calligraphy charity exhibition is held in Zhongshan Park in Beijing; 1,500 artworks are displayed. 

June 4, The Ministry of Education instructs pedagogical institutions to criticize the film Story of Wu Xun. Wu Xun (1838–96) was a nineteenth-century Chinese cultural hero who promoted free education for peasant children. 

June 5, The Shanghai Public Art Publishing House halts the distribution of the picture-story book Wu Xun

July 10, The first round of negotiations for an armistice in the Korean War is held in Seoul. 

August, Jiang Feng leaves Hangzhou for Beijing, where he is appointed the vice president of CAFA.  

September 14, The People’s Fine Arts Publishing House is established in Beijing  where its largest facility produced numerous posters. {STZ:Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House is a separate etity.}

November, The entire faculty and student body of the CAFA’s East China Campus is sent to northern Anhui Province to participate in tugai (land reform) for four months. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee issues an edict concerning the advancement of ideological reform in schools and an instruction to initiate a rectification study campaign within literary and art circles. 


January 4, The CCP Central Committee initiates the Three-Antis campaign (anti-corruption, anti-waste, anti-bureaucracy). 

January 26, The CCP Central Committee begins the Five-Antis campaign (anti-bribery, anti-tax evasion, anti-theft of national assets, anti-cheating state contracts, anti-economic-espionage). 

These campaigns are implemented nationwide. 

May 23, The People’s Daily publishes the editorial “Continue the Struggle over the Direction of Art as Proposed by Comrade Mao Zedong: Commemorate the Tenth Anniversary of the Publication of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art.” 

August 1, Construction of the Monument to the People’s Heroes at Tiananmen Square in Beijing begins. 

August 6, The China Federation of Literary and Art Circles initiates its fifth enlarged council members meeting, to carry out the guiding principles of the cultural rectification campaigns. 

September 4, The Ministry of Culture announces the winners of the New Year’s Painting Creation Prizes for 1951 and 1952. Lin Gang’s Zhao Guilan at the Heroes Reception and Deng Shu’s Preserve Peace are awarded first prize.

September, The Shanghai College of Art, Suzhou College of Art, and Shandong University’s Fine Arts Department are merged into the East China College of Arts in Wuxi. Liu Haisu is appointed president. 

November 15, The People’s Daily publishes the editorial “Learn from Soviet Artists.” 

November 16, The Monument to the People’s Heroes art team is mobilized by the vice-mayor of Hangzhou, and Liu Kaiqu, vice president of the CAFA’s East China Campus is appointed the project leader. 

December, Wenyibao (Literature and Arts) publishes Jiang Huai’s essay “The Recent State of Reactionary American Literature and Art,” in which he repudiates abstract expressionism and other artistic trends. 


January 7, Qi Baishi’s eighty-ninth birthday celebration is held in Beijing. Premier Zhou Enlai attends the celebration and greets the artist. 

February 28, Huang Binhong’s ninetieth birthday celebration is held in Hangzhou. 

March 3, The Political Board of the PLA convenes the Literature and Arts Creation Forum.

March 5, Joseph Stalin dies.

July 27, The Korean War Armistice agreement is signed at Panmunjon

September, CAFA selects the first batch of students to be sent to study in the Soviet Union. Li Tianxiang is among them.

September 16, The “First National Painting  (Guohua) Exhibit” displaying a selection of 245 works by more than 200 painters is inaugurated in Beijing. 

September 23, The Second All-China Congress of Literary and Arts Workers is held in Beijing. 

September 25, The Chinese Art Workers Association’s National Committee holds an enlarged meeting. 

September 26, Xu Beihong (1895–1953), the chairman of the Chinese Art Workers Association and the president of CAFA, dies. Zhou Enlai and other dignitaries express their condolences. 

October 4, The enlarged meeting of the Chinese Art Workers Association’s National Committee concludes. Qi Baishi is elected chairman, and Hua Junwu the head secretary. The Chinese Art Workers Association is formally renamed the Chinese Artists Association. 

November 1, The painting gallery at the Palace Museum in Beijing opens. 

December 12, The exhibition “Works by the Late Xu Beihong” is held at Zhongshan Park in Beijing. Premier Zhou Enlai visits the exhibition and authorizes the establishment of the Xu Beihong Memorial Museum in Beijing? 

Dong Xiwen’s oil painting The Founding Ceremony of the Nation is completed and receives praise from the nation’s leaders.

CAFA’s East China Campus publishes “The Syllabus of Soviet Post-Secondary Art Institutions” in its journal.

Jiang Feng is appointed the president of CAFA.

December 24, The Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee initiates a meeting, at which an alleged “conspiracy to split the party” by Gao Gang and Rao Shushi is exposed.


January 15, The journal Fine Arts is founded in Beijing. Wang Zhaowen is appointed chief editor. 

February 12, Liu Kaiqu is elected chairman at the first meeting of the East China’s Artists Association preparatory committee. Chen Yanqiao is appointed the head secretary. 

February, The Chinese Artists Association publicizes “the Constitution of the Chinese Fine Artists Association.” One of the provisions stipulates that “artists should actively participate in the people’s struggle, maintain close ties with the people, and adopt the methodologies of socialist realism for artistic creation and criticism to strive for the development of artworks that will serve the needs of the people.”   

April 27, The East China Artists Association is established. 

April 28, “The Paintings of Qi Baishi” exhibition” is held in Beijing. 

May 31, The Chinese People’s National Committee for Defense of Children announces the winners of the children’s literature and art prize (1949–53). Wang Xuyang’s picture book <Tonggong> (Child Labor) and Liu Jiyou’s picture book Jimaoxin (Letter with a Chicken Feather) win first prize. 

June 24, Zhou Enlai travels to New Delhi to meet with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and they issue a joint communiqué. 

July 25, Writer Hu Feng puts forward a document “Report on the Circumstances of Literature and Art Practices in the Past Few Years.” 

August 5, The Chinese Artists Association holds the national watercolor and sketches exhibition in Beijing; 244 works by 133 artists are displayed. 

September 5, The first national printmaking exhibition is held in Beijing.

September 20, The First Plenum of the First National Congress passes the Constitution of the PRC. Mao Zedong is elected chairman of the nation, and Zhou Enlai is appointed premier of the State Council.

September 30, The Head of USSR Academy of Art, Alexander M. Gerasimov (1881–1963) visits China. 

October 2, The “USSR Economy and Cultural Achievements” exhibition” is held in Beijing; 280 works are on display, and the exhibition includes a hall of plastic (visual) art. 

October 10, The Xu Beihong Memorial Museum opens in Beijing. 

November 29, The Chinese Artists Association convenes a discussion on printmaking at which Pu Yizhuang’s A Corner of the Dockyard and Liang Yongtai’s A Place No One Has Ever Trod are criticized.  


January 20, The CCP Central Committee Propaganda Department releases “Report on Launching a Critique of Hu Feng’s Ideology.” 

February 19, The Soviet oil painter and professor Konstantin M. Maksimov from the Surikov Academy of Fine Art arrives in Beijing and assumes the position of foreign consultant and instructor of an oil painting training course at CAFA. 

March 25, Painter Huang Binghong (1865–1955) dies.

March 27, The second national art exhibition is held in Beijing; it includes more than 900 works of art


March, The CCP National Congress convenes and passes a draft of the First Five-Year Plan for the nation’s economy and a resolution on Gao Gang and Rao Shushi’s “antiparty alliance”. 

April 3, The People’s Daily publishes the editorial “Advancing Cultural Activities of the Masses.”

April 17, Zhou Enlai leads the Chinese delegation to the first Asian-African Conference, held in Bandung, Indonesia; twenty-nine states participate in the conference, at which a ten-point “declaration on the promotion of world peace and cooperation” is issued.

April 22, The Chinese Artists Association convenes a symposium repudiating Hu Feng’s “reactionary thought on literature and art.” 

May 5, The Chinese Artists Association convenes the Second Enlarged Meeting of the First Council in Beijing, at which both the Soviet painter Konstantin M. Maksimov and Vice Minister of Culture Zhou Yang present reports. 

May, The People’s Daily publishes “On the Materials of Hu Feng’s Counterrevolutionary Clique” and Mao Zedong’s preliminary remarks and comments on them. The Anti-Hu Feng Counterrevolutionary Clique Movement and a suppression of counterrevolutionary campaigns are initiated nationwide.   

June 6, The National Art Education Conference convenes in Beijing. 

July 1, The National Symposium on the Teaching of Drawing is held in Beijing. More than fifty instructors from twenty-two different academies participate.  

July 31, An international art competition and exhibition is held at the Fifth World Youth and Student Peace and Friendship Festival in Warsaw. Zhou Chang’gu’s Two Lambs takes the first prize. 

November 15, The People’s Daily publishes the editorial “Writers and Artists, Go to Countryside.” 


April, At an enlarged session of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee, Mao proposes the slogan “Let a hundred flowers bloom in the arts, allow a hundred schools of thought to contend in academia.” 

June 1, The State Council decides to establish huayuan (painting institutes for professionals) in Beijing and Shanghai. 


July 10, The second national painting (guohua) exhibition opens in Beijing; 944 works are included.

July 1, Mexican National Plastic Art Front Exhibition with 138 paintings and 258 prints opens in Beijing.  Then the shows toured Shanghai and Guangzhou. Premier Zhou Enlai, visited the shows.  August 10, The Shanghai Art Museum opens its doors. Mayor Chen Yi inaugurates the museum, whose first exhibition is the second national painting  exhibition, which originated in Beijing. 

August 24, At a meeting with the Chinese Musicians Association’s leader, Mao suggests that artists “should not completely westernize” and should aim for “creating our own Chinese things with characteristic national form and style.”

September 1, An Oil Painting Teaching Forum is staged at CAFA.


September 15, The CCP Eighth National Congress is held in Beijing.

September 28, The First Plenum of the Eight National Congress of the CCP Central Committee elects Mao Zedong chairman and Deng Xiaoping secretary general. 

October , David Siqueiros visited Beijing and talks to Chinese Artists Association members.

October 22, “The Second National Printmaking Exhibition” is held in Beijing; 332 works by 

156 artists are displayed. 


November 1, The Central Academy of Art and Crafts {STZ:use the same translation as in other texts}is established in Beijing. 


December 15, “The National Caricatures Exhibition” is held in Beijing; 321 works are displayed. 



January 15, The CAFA and CAFA East China Campus jointly inaugurate Meishu Yanjiu 

(Fine Arts Research), published by the Shanghai People’s Arts Publishing House. 


February 27, Mao Zedong, at the Eleventh Session (Enlarged) of the Supreme State Conference, speaks “On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions among the People.” 


March 6, The CCP Central Committee convenes a national conference on propaganda work in Beijing; nonparty members are included. 

May 14, The Beijing Chinese Painting Institute (Huayuan)is established. Ye Gongzhuo is appointed the director and Chen Banding the vice director. 


May 24, Maximov concludes his training course in oil painting and holds a graduate exhibition at which more than a hundred works by students are displayed. General Zhu De, vice chairman of China, attends the exhibition.  


June 8, Mao Zedong drafts for the CCP Central Committee the internal document “Muster Our Forces to Repulse the Rightists’ Wild Attacks.” The Peoples’ Daily publishes the editorial “Why Is This?” Anti-Rightist campaigns are initiated across the nation. According to official records, during this period 552,887 people are labeled rightists,.

July 28, The Ministry of Culture convenes an art workers forum at which the “antiparty remarks and activities” of the Chinese Artists Association’s party secretary, Jiang Feng, are repudiated.

The CAFA launches a campaign to criticize Jiang Feng and faculty members Wang Manshuo, Li Zongjin, Yan Han, and Qin Zheng, who are considered to be part of the so-called “Jiang Feng antiparty clique.” Zhu Naizheng and some students are also labeled rightists. 

The Central Academy of Art and Crafts holds a three-month-long campaign against the “anticommunist clique led by Pang Xunqin.”


The CAFA East China Campus repudiates Mo Pu, the “right hand of the Jiang Feng anti-party clique,” along with Zhu Jinlou, Wang Liuqiu, and others. Eleven students are among the thirty-one individuals purged from the academy as rightists.  


August 1, The “First National Military Art Exhibition, Commemorating the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Establishment of the PLA” opens in Beijing. 


The Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Artists Association jointly convene the Beijing 

Chinese Painters Forum, at which the “consistently antiparty and antisocialist” remarks and activities of the Beijing Chinese Painting Institute’s vice president, Xu Yansun, are criticized. 


August, Both the Shanghai Art Circle and the Jiangsu Federation of Literary and Art Circles assemble and criticize Liu Haisu and Yu Yunjie for their “antiparty and antisocialist” remarks and activities.  


September 16, Artist Qi Baishi (1864-1957) dies in Beijing. 


September, The Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Artists Association convene their eighteenth Anti-Rightist Campaign forum. Jiang Feng is identified as the “head of the antiparty clique” and is relieved of his post of president of the CAFA and is expelled from CCP. 


November 5, “The Eighteenth- to Twentieth-Century Russian Painting Exhibition” is held in Beijing. 


February 16, “The Third National Print Exhibition” opens at the Beijing Exhibition Center.

March 4, Eleven Shanghai artists, among them Lin Fengmian and Guan Liang, are sent to in the eastern outskirts of Shanghai and participate in manual labor.

March 15, The Ministry of Culture inaugurates the first National Art and Science Research Symposium.

March 22, The Chinese Artists Association issues a proposal to summon artists from every region of the nation to rouse their enthusiasm and accelerate a great leap forward in the arts. 

March, An ideological campaign, with the slogans “pull out the white flag in favor of the red flag,” “hand over our hearts to the party,” and “advocate the proletariat ideology and destroy capitalist one,” begins in higher education institutions. Many faculty members and experts are criticized during this campaign.   

The CCP Central Committee holds a work conference in Chengdu at which Mao Zedong puts forward and advocates the general line of “going all out, aiming high, and achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results to build socialism.” This general line, along with the Great Leap Forward and establishment of people’s communes, would later become collectively known as the Three Red Flags.

May 1, The Monument to the People’s Heroes is completed and unveiled. 

May 23, The Second Plenum of the Eight National Congress of the CCP Central Committee concludes in Beijing. The congress officially adopts the general line proposed by Mao Zedong. 

June 18, Pan Tianshou is named an honorary member of the Academy of Arts of the U.S.S.R.

June 20, Artists from Beijing working at the Shisanling (Ming Tombs) reservoir construction site join forces with students from the CAFA to open the joint exhibition “Shisanling Reservoir Arts Exhibition.”

June 30, China officially begins operating its first experimental nuclear reactor. 

July 8, The exhibition “Works by U.S.S.R. Artists, 1955–57” is held in Beijing. 

August 23, The PLA stationed at the frontline in Fujian Province initiates the bombardment of Jinmen Island, across the Taiwan Strait; the bombardment continues until 1979. 

September 1, The “Exhibition of Peasant Paintings from Pei County, Jiangsu” is held at Beijing’s Art Exhibition Hall; 191 propaganda paintings and more than 60 photographs of murals are on display. 

September 13, The CAFA initiates an art course for workers and peasants; eighty-two students are recruited for three workshops. 

October 20, The People’s Daily publishes the editorial “Strive to Achieve a Great Leap Forward in Literature and Art.” In Qingyang County, Gansu Province, 280,000 murals and 1,040,000 slogans are put on the walls. 

November 7, The “Joint Printmaking Exhibition of Artists from Beijing and Moscow” opens in Beijing. 

November 27, The ” Workers, Peasants, and Soldiers Painting Exhibition” is held in Beijing.

December 26, The exhibition “Plastic Art in Socialist Countries” is held in Moscow; it includes more than three thousand works, among which twenty-seven are from China. 


March 24, The Chinese Artists Association’s representatives Cai Ruohong and Wang Zhaowen participate in a symposium held in Moscow in conjunction with the exhibition “Plastic Arts in Socialist Countries.” 

April 17, The second National People’s Congress is held in Beijing. Liu Shaoqi is elected chairman of the PRC. 

July 16, Yu Fei’ai (1887–1959), vice director of the Beijing Chinese Painting Institute, dies.

August 2, Yang Zhiguang’s ink painting Delivering Food on a Snowy Night receives the Golden Prize at the International Exhibition of the Seventh World Youth Festival. 

August, The CCP convenes the Eighth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee in Lushan. It criticizes Defense Minister Peng Dehuai and others as “right deviation opportunists of the antiparty clique.” A broader Anti-Right Deviation Campaign ensues.

September 27, Mao Zedong inscribes Fu Baoshi and Guan Shanyue’s painting The Rivers and Land So Rich in Beauty

October 1, Seven hundred thousand PLA soldiers and civilians gather in Tiananmen Square for the Tenth-Anniversary Celebration of the Establishment of the PRC. 

December 5, The Ministry of Culture appoints Pan Tianshou the president of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (formerly the East China Campus of the CAFA).

December 8, The CCP Central Committee Propaganda Department initiates the National Cultural Work Conference and declares the influence of revisionist and capitalist ideologies to be the main danger to the literary and fine arts.

Serious economic difficulties emerge in China from 1959 to 1961since the entire country is gripped by famine, which kills an estimated 38 million people. 


January 28, The “Second PLA Art Exhibition” opens in Beijing; over 640 works are on display. 

March 16, The Jiangsu Chinese Painting Institute is established; Fu Baoshi is appointed the director. 

April 21, The “Portrait, Landscape, and Still-Life Oil Painting Exhibition” opens in Beijing. 

April, An oil painting study course sponsored by the Ministry of Culture is started at the CAFA. The original plan was to invite a Soviet instructor to teach the course. However, since the gap between the Chinese and Soviet Communist Party policies had been widening since the late 1950s, Luo Gongliu who studied in Russia in 1950stakes on the duty of teaching the course. 

June 17, The Third national art exhibition opens in Beijing.

July 16, The Sino-Soviet split becomes public. The U.S.S.R. suspends Sino-Soviet agreements and pacts and withdraws all Soviet specialists from China.

July 30, The Second Congress of the Chinese Artists Association is held in Beijing; He Xiangning is elected the chairman of the association, and Hua Junwu the head secretary. 

July, An internal exhibition of abstract art is held by Chinese Artists Association in Beijing. 

August 1, The Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution is officially opened. 

September, The Central Committee of PRC, chaired by Lin Biao, proposes slogans such as “Construct the army on politics,” “Give prominence to politics,” and “Mao Zedong thought in command.” 

October, The Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts holds an oil painting training course conducted by Romanian artist Eugen Popa (1919–96).


January In an order on “Strengthening Political and Ideological Work,” Lin Biao proposes a more practical methodology for studying and applying Mao Zedong thought, in which the superiority of politically conscious men over weapons is emphasized. 

March 15, The CCP Central Committee working session passes a draft of  “Rules and Policies for People’s Communes.” 

March 18, The painting exhibition “Scenes of the Countryside” is held in Beijing. 

May 2, The Ministry of Culture commissions and compiles national textbooks for higher education institutions. 

June 2, Forum on the Creation of Revolutionary Historical Paintings is held in Beijing. Luo Gongliu’s Chairman Mao on Jinggang Mountain and Hou Yimin’s Comrade Liu Shaoqi with Mining Workers of Anyuan  receive high acclaim.

June, The Propaganda Department of the CCP Central Committee issues the document “Ten Articles for Literature and Art.” 

July 1, The Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History, both located on the east side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, are officially inaugurated. 

December 19, The exhibition “Chinese Revolutionary Woodcuts, 1931–49” opens in Beijing. 


January, The CCP Central Committee Enlarged Working Conference, at which the mistakes of economic work since 1958 are reviewed, is held in Beijing.

February, An exhibition of works by the late Situ Qiao (1902–58) is held in Beijing.

March 27, The Third Session of the Second National People’s Congress is held in Beijing. 

April 30, The CCP Central Committee authorizes the final draft of “Opinions on Several Issues Regarding Current Literature and Art Works,” also known by its abbreviated title “the Eight Articles for Literature and the Arts,” prepared by the Propaganda Department.  

April, The National Art Gallery of China is inaugurated in Beijing. Liu Kaiqu is appointed the director. 

May 23, The national art exhibition to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Publication of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art opens in Beijing; 1,115 works are on display. 

September 24, The Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Congress of the CCP is held in Beijing, at the congress, Mao Zedong stresses that severe class struggles still exist in socialist society. 

September 30, An exhibition of  Pan Tianshou’s paintings is held in Beijing; ninety-one of his  works are on display. 


The CCP Central Committee starts a countrywide campaign of socialist education, later known as the Four Cleanups Movement.”

March 31, “Praising Lei Feng,” a painting exhibition sponsored by the Chinese Artists Association, is held in Beijing. 


April 14, An exhibition of paintings by Lin Fengmian opens in Beijing; seventy-five works are on display. 


July, An exhibition of oil paintings and sculptures by CAFA graduate students is held in 

Beijing. Among the works included in the exhibition that receive praise are Du Jian’s Moving Forward in Turbulent Currents and Zhong Han’s By the Side of the Yan River.   

September, Ma Zedong puts forward, in the working session of the CCP Central Committee, “oppose revisionism within the country.” 

October,A Memorial Exhibition of Xu Beihong’s Works on the Tenth Anniversary of His 

Death” is held in Beijing. 


December 26, An awards ceremony for picture books is held in Beijing. He Youzhi’s Great Change in a Mountain Village and Liu Jiyou’s The Poor Overturn the World, among others, win prizes.  


December 28,A Memorial Exhibition of the World Cultural Celebrity Artist Qi Baishi on the One-Hundredth Anniversary of his Birth” opens in Beijing.    

December, Mao Zedong issues important edicts on literature and art: “In all fields of the arts—drama, quyi performances, music, fine arts, dance, cinema, poetry and literature, and so forth—there are a great number of problems, which lack socialist transformation.”


January 25, The PRC establishes diplomatic relation with France. 

February 8, An exhibition of people’s commune landscape paintings opens in Beijing and later travels to many cities around the country. 


February 22, A Forum on the Issues of Artistic Creation is held in Beijing; more than 150 artists attend. 


July 1, The party’s magazine Red Flag publishes an editorial entitled “A Huge Revolution on the Cultural Front.”


July 10, The “Third PLA Art Exhibition” opens in Beijing.  


September 26, The first part of the fourth national art exhibition, “Works from Northern Region,” opens in 


October 16, The PRC’s first atomic bomb is successfully detonated.


December 19, The national art exhibition “Works from the Northeastern and Northwestern Regions” opens in Beijing.


January 31, The national art exhibition “Works from the Eastern Region” opens in Beijing. 

March 14, The national art exhibition “Works from the Southwestern Region” opens in Beijing. 


March, The Propaganda Department of the CCP Central Committee launches rectification campaigns in literary and art circles all over the country.

June 13, The national art exhibition “Works from the South-Central Region” opens in Beijing. 


July 18, Mao Zedong comments on a May 12 letter to Jiang Qing by instructors 

at the CAFA regarding the use of human models in art institutions.  

July, Mao Zedong issues instructions for a movement for the rectification of literary and arts circles and sharply criticizes the works of literature and art associations, pointing out that the associations have already fallen into a state of revisionism.


September 29, Fu Baoshi (1904-64), the director of the Jiangsu Chinese Painting Institute, dies.


October, Rent Collection Courtyard, a group of clay sculptures consisting of 114 figures, is created in Dayi County, Sichuan Province. 


December 19, “Rent Collection Courtyard,” an exhibition of a group of clay sculptures in a landlord’s mansion of Dayi County, Sichuan Province, opens in Beijing. 


February 2, Encouraged by Lin Biao, Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, holds a symposium in Shanghai on literature and art in the military. A brief is later published, which claims that from 1949 onward a black bourgeois line has monopolized literary and art circles.

April 17, The art exhibition “Chairman Mao’s Excellent Disciple Jiao Yulu” opens at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. After the exhibition, the museum is closed for six years. 

May 16, The enlarged meeting of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee passes the May Sixteenth Circular, advocating carrying out the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. 

May 28, The Central Cultural Revolution Group is officially established; Jiang Qing is appointed the deputy director.

June 21, The People’s Daily publishes works by peasants from Hu County, Shannxi Province, along with the editor’s note “Peasants’ Revolutionary Paintings.” 

July 20, The People’s Daily publishes an essay, “First Engage in the Revolution of the Mind, and Then the Revolution of Sculpture,” by the creation team of Rent Collection Courtyard.

August 1, Mao Zedong presides over the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth CCP Central Committee, which issues the sixteen-point directive for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, advocating “the four big rights” (to speak out freely, to air one’s views fully, to write big-character posters, to hold great debates).

August 9, The Red Guards from the CAFA hold their first public accusation and denunciation meeting. The former party secretary Chen Pei, Professor Ye Qianyu, and others are thrown into “cowsheds,”(niupeng) accused of being “monsters and demons.” 

August 18, Mao reviews a demonstration by over one million Red Guards and other people in Tiananmen Square. Lin Biao advocates “the abolishment of four olds” (old ideas, old culture, old customs, old habits). 

August 19, Violence begins to spread throughout the country. The Red Guards of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and other places start coming out into the streets to destroy the “four olds.” Social order is in a state of chaos. In Beijing, for instance, from mid-August to the end of September, an estimated 1,700 people are beaten to death and 33,600 homes are seized. 

August 24, The Red Guards from the CAFA and other universities engage in such activities as setting teaching equipment on fire and smashing plaster statues.

August 31, The leaders of the CCP’s Central Committee, including Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, Zhou Enlai, and Tao Zhou, review a Red Guards rally in Tiananmen Square.

September 2, Artist Lin Fengmian’s house in Shanghai is seized by the Red Guards.  

September 6, Pan Tianshou is locked up in a “cowshed” at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. 

The headquarters of the CAFA’s Red Guards posts a placard launching the ransacking and confiscating of the houses of the “monsters and demons.” 

China Pictorial publishes five paintings by peasants from Hu County, Shannxi Province, along with Liu Zhigui’s article “Using Painting Brushes as Weapons.” 

By the end of September, eighty-five thousand people were branded as belonging to the “Black Five Categories.” According to Mao, those five categories were “bandit chieftains, professional brigands, local tyrants, special agents, and leaders of reactionary secret societies.” Those who fell into these categories were driven out of Beijing. {STZ: this is not accurate. Black 5 categories was a wide-spread accusation. the actual number of people effected was much larger than 85,000. please check the origin.}

November 28, Over twenty thousand Red Guards and rebels from art circles all over the country hold a Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Rally in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.



January 5, Rebel groups take over the city of Shanghai, in what is called “January Storm.” 

January 11, The People’s Daily publishes three articles on the theme of “smashing the bourgeoisie dictatorship of Cai Ruohong and Hua Junwu in art circles.” 

February 5, A caricature exhibition, “Smashing the Reactionary Line of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping,” opens in Beijing.

February 22, The comic Portrait of a Bunch of Clowns is published in The East is Red, a publication sponsored by the revolutionary rebellion liaison station of the Red Guards of the universities and other educational institutions in Beijing. 

February, At a report meeting chaired by Zhou Enlai, senior cadres, including Tan Zhenlin, Chen Yi, and Ye Jianying, strongly criticize the Cultural Revolution. Later, the meeting becomes known as the “February Countercurrent,” and the cadres who participated in it are denounced. 

May 4, A life-size statue of Mao Zedong is inaugurated at Qinghua University. Inscribed on the base is an epigraph by Lin Biao, “Long Live the Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Commander, and Great Helmsman, Chairman Mao!”

May 14, The CCP Central Committee issues a document indicating that important ancient architecture, caves, temples, stone carvings, sculptures, and murals of notable significance should be protected. 

May 15, A riot occurs in Hong Kong.  

May 23, The revolutionary art exhibition “Long Live the Victory of Mao Zedong Thought” opens at the National Art Museum of China. It is jointly organized by eighty-four revolutionary rebellion organizations in Beijing. 

May 25, The art exhibition “Long Live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” opens in Tiananmen Square and then travels to factories, villages, and army units. 

June 2, The exhibition “The Capital Red Guards Revolutionary Rebellion,” organized by the Red Guards Congress of the universities, colleges, and middle schools in the capital, is held in the Beijing Exhibition Center. 

July 13, The CCP Central Committee issues a document concerning the construction of Chairman Mao statues.

A Chronicle of the Struggle between the Two Lines on the Art Front (1949 –66) is published.

October 1, The exhibition “Long Live the Victory of Chairman Mao’s Revolutionary Line” opens in Beijing. Over 1,600 artworks are on display. A preview of the exhibition “Lights of Mao Zedong Thought Illuminate the Anyuan’s Workers Movement” is held in Beijing. The oil painting Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan by Liu Chunhua is on display. This painting is believed to have been copied and printed onto more than nine hundred million posters and other materials.

October 1, Armed conflict takes place between the Indian army and the Chinese army in the borderlands of Sikkim. 

October 14, The CCP Central Committee issues a notice, calling on students and teachers to “return to the class and carry on revolution.”

November 4, The CAFA Oil Painting Department holds a training course on painting portraits of Chairman Mao, recruiting students among workers, peasants, and soldiers. 

December, The “Albanian Plastic Arts” exhibition” is held in Beijing.


January 1, The “Red Sun Art” exhibition,” prepared by thirty-four revolutionary rebellion organizations, opens in Shanghai; more than three hundred works are on display. 


April 26, An exhibition of the group sculpture Rent Collection Courtyard opens in Tirana, the 

Capital of Albania.  

May 11, The chairman of the Sculpture Department at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Professor Xiao Chuanjiu (1914–68) dies after being persecuted. 

July 1, The oil painting Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan is published in the People’s Daily and PLA Daily

July 7, The People’s Daily publishes Liu Chunhua’s article “Extolling the Great Leader 

Chairman Mao is Our Biggest Happiness,” in which he discusses the creation of Chairman Mao 

Goes to Anyuan. 


July 9, The People’s Daily publishes a long report entitled “Flowers of Arts Are Blossoming 

out of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: The Record of the Naissance of Chairman 

Mao Goes to Anyuan.” 

August 25, Instructed by Mao Zedong, the CCP Central Committee issues a circular on the dispatching of workers' propaganda teams to all universities, schools, and cultural and educational units throughout country and on the propaganda teams' permanent leadership of schools.  


October 13. The Twelfth Plenum of the Eighth CCP Central Committee, held in Beijing, approves Jiang Qing and Kang Sheng's “Report on the Crimes of the Traitor, Enemy Agent, and 

Scab Liu Shaoqi” (which was based on false charges) and passes a resolution to expel Liu Shaoqi from the party and remove him from all his posts both inside and outside the party. 


From 1968 to 1978, the educated youth who were sent up to the mountains and down to the countryside numbered 16,230,000. The expenditure of the state and various enterprises for this movement exceeded one hundred billion yuan (approximately twelve billion US dollars). 


March 2, A violent armed conflict between the Chinese and Soviet armies takes place in the 

Zhenbao Island (Damanski Island) area of Heilongjiang Province. China and the Soviet Union completely split. 

March 21, The head of the CAFA Art History Department, Wang Xun (1915–69), dies. He was accused of being a key member of the Jiang Feng antiparty clique in 1957 and was denounced during the Cultural Revolution. 

April 1, The Ninth National Congress of the CCP is held in Beijing. 


April 14, The Guangming Daily publishes “The Revolution of Art Education: The Growth of Red Painting Soldiers,” which claims that “Red painting soldiers from the [ranks of ]workers, peasants and soldiers are the best teachers of professional artists.” 

April 28, At the First Plenum of the Ninth CCP Central Committee, held in Beijing, Mao Zedong is elected the chairman of the Central Committee, and Lin Biao vice chairman. 


June 26, The People’s Daily publishes the article “Broad World, Great Achievement,” praising the upsurge of educated youth going up to mountains and down to countryside. 

September 27, All the staff members of the Chinese Artists Association are sent to the countryside to labor at the May Seventh Cadre School.  


November 12, Former chairman of the PRC Liu Shaoqi is tortured to death, at the age of 71.

November 29, The party’s magazine Red Flag publishes the watercolor painting Red 

Guards of Chairman Mao: Learn from Comrade Jin Xunhua, a Model of Revolutionary Youth, along with an article commending on it.  



January 20, The 135th diplomatic meeting between China and the United States is held in Warsaw. 

January 29, Chen Banding (1876–1950), the vice president of the Beijing Chinese Painting Institute, is harassed to death under the orders of CCP leader Kang Sheng. Ni Yide (1901–70), oil painter and professor at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, dies. He is also a victim of persecution.

March 27, The CCP Central Committee issues a circular, instructing a thorough investigation into the counterrevolutionary conspiracy group “May Sixteenth.” The investigation is the cause of injustice on a large scale across the entire country. 

August 5, Under the headline “Devote Great Effort to Popularize Model Revolutionary Operas,” the People’s Daily publishes an article praising the picture book Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy.

August, The Second Plenum of the Ninth CCP Central Committee is held at Lu Mountain. Chen Boda hastily distributes a bulletin praising Lin Biao, calling for the formalization of the position of chairman of the PRC, and endorsing Lin Biao for the post.

August 31, Mao Zedong writes “My Opinion,” severely criticizing Chen Boda and foiling the Lin Biao counterrevolutionary clique’s scheme to usurp leadership. 

October 1, The monumental group sculpture Long Live the Victory of Chairman Mao’s Proletarian Revolutionary Line is completed in Shenyang. 

December 28, Chen Yanqiao (1911–70), a printmaker and vice president of the Guangxi College of Arts, dies. 

Shanghai’s newspaper Wenhuibao organizes an oil painting team for revolutionary model operas. Members of this group include Quan Shanshi and Qiu Ruimin, among others. The group’s first completed work is a series of oil paintings of scenes of the ballet Red Detachment of Women

The revolutionary committee of Shanxi Province organizes an art creation team for the production of revolutionary historical paintings. The group’s members include Cai Liang and Zhang Ziyi, among others. 


March 28, People’s Daily publishes a selection of works from the naval art exhibition, in which more than two hundred oil paintings, prints, Chinese ink paintings, papercuts, and drawings were on display. 

July 9, Henry Kissinger arrives in Beijing, and while he is there, an agreement concerning President Richard Nixon visiting China is finalized. 

July, The Cultural Office of the State Council is established. Wu De is appointed head, and Wang Maitian is placed in charge of fine arts. 

September 5, Pan Tianshou (1897–1971), the artist and president of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, dies. He had been persecuted and humiliated for several years.

September 13, Lin Biao is killed in a plane crash in Mongolia. 

October 1, The exhibition  “Masterpieces of Chinese Traditional Paintings” is held at the Palace Museum in Beijing. 

Shanghai’s Liberation Daily organizes the “Yellow River creative team.” It is composed of oil painters, among them Chen Yifei and Qin Dahu.

October 25, The United Nations Twenty-sixth General Assembly passes Resolution 2758,

 with seventy-six votes in favor of the resolution, and the PRC replaces the Republic of China as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.


February 28, China and the United States issue the Shanghai Communique at the conclusion of President Richard Nixon’s visit.  

January 4, An art exhibition from North Vietnam, “Resisting the United States and Saving the Country,” opens in Beijing. Afterwards, the exhibition travels to other cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou. 

Spring, To reduce the illiteracy rate, the CCP proposed to extend the five-year elementary school education, prevalent in urban areas at the time, to rural areas. 

May 12, The Shanghai Art Exhibition opens. 

May,The National Art Exhibition in Commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Publication of Mao Zedong’s Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art” is held in Beijing. Before the exhibition, the Cultural Office of the State Council called on artists Jin Shangyi, Zhu Naizheng, Guang Tingbo, Sun Jingbo, and others to form a “painting retouching team,” to be in charge of correcting oil paintings submitted from across the country. 

An exhibition of works by the Shanghai Model Revolutionary Operas Oil Painting Creation Team is held at the Shanghai Museum.

September 29, The PRC establishes diplomatic relations with Japan. Sino-Japanese relations return to normal. 


March 10, Following Mao Zedong’s suggestion, the CCP Central Committee restores Deng Xiaoping’s right to engage in regular activities of the party organization and his position as vice premier. 

May 23, Artist Wang Shikuo (1911–73) dies. 

June, The National Working Conference on the Movement of Educated Urban Youth Going Up to Mountains and Down to Villages is held, organized by the State Council in Beijing. 

August 7, An exhibition of paintings by the Chilean artist José Venturelli is held in Beijing. 

August 24, The Tenth CCP Congress is held in Beijing, at which the so-called “great success of the Cultural Revolution” is affirmed. 

September 1, He Xiangning (1878–1973), the president of the Chinese Artists Association, dies.

October 1, The “National Picture Story Book and Ink Painting”  exhibition” and the exhibition of ”Peasant Paintings from Hu County” open simultaneously in Beijing.

October, Lianhuan Huabao (Magazine of Picture Stories) resumes publication. 

November, The Cultural Office of the State Council decides to establish the Central May Seventh University of Arts with colleges of drama, music, cinema, and fine arts. Jiang Qing is appointed the nominal president, Yu Huiyong the president, and Wang Mantian the vice president. 

The CAFA faculty and student body return to school from Ci County in Hebei Province. 

The conditions in the areas of culture, education, science, and technology steadily improved during the early 1970s. In 1973, for example, universities and other educational institutions recruited 150,000 students. 


January 2, At a meeting of the CCP Standing Committee of Shanghai, Zhang Chunqiao criticizes the catalogue of traditional Chinese paintings exported by the foreign trade agency. 

January, The campaign of Criticizing Lin Biao and Repudiating Confucius is initiated nationwide as a veiled attack on Premier Zhou Enlai, who has been instrumental in moderating ultraleftist policies. 

February 15, The “Black Painting” exhibition is held in Beijing; 215 works are displayed. Many of the prominent artists, including Li Keran, are repudiated. 

October 1, “The National Art Exhibition in Celebration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC” is held in Beijing; 430 works are on display. An exhibition of paintings by workers from Shanghai, Yangquan, and Lushun–Dalian opens in Beijing. 

November 29, The former minister of defense Peng Dehuai (1898–1974) dies with, the injustices he suffered unredressed.  


January, The Second Plenum of the Tenth CCP Central Committee is held; Deng Xiaoping is elected the vice chairman of the committee. Prior to this conference, Deng has already been appointed vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and chief of the PLA. 

April 16, The “Canadian Landscape Painting” exhibition” opens in Beijing and later tours to Shanghai.

September 2, The “Australian Landscape Painting” exhibition opens in Beijing and later travels to Nanjing.

September 4, The clay group sculpture Anger of Serfs is displayed at the Tibetan Revolutionary Exhibition Center in Lhasa.

September 15, Feng Zikai (1898–1975), artist and director of the Shanghai Chinese Painting Institute, dies. 

September 19, The exhibition “Peasant Paintings of Hu County” is displayed at the Ninth Paris Biennial. 

September, The College of Fine Arts of the Central May Seventh University of the Arts holds an advanced oil painting program for students from worker, peasant, and soldier backgrounds. The duration of the program is two years.   

December, The national movement of Anti-Rightist Reverse of Verdict starts.  


January 8, Premier Zhou Enlai dies.

February 1, The “Shanghai Peasant Art” exhibition is held at the Shanghai Art Museum.

February. The Ministry of Culture issues a notice, announcing that “special attention should be paid to art works representing the struggle against those in power but taking the capitalist road in the socialist period.”

The “Xiyang Peasant Painting” exhibition is held in Xiyang and Taiyuan.

March 25, The magazine Fine Arts resumes publication. 

April 5, In Tiananmen Square, Beijing masses participate in the April Fifth Movement in memory of Zhou Enlai, who had died January 8. Deng Xiaoping is accused of backing the “counterrevolutionary incident” and is again dismissed from all his posts.

July, A magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurs in the city of Tangshan, Hebei Province. More than 242,000 people are killed, 164,000 seriously injured 

September 9, Mao Zedong (1893–1976) dies. 

October 6, Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen, and Yao Wenyuan (the Gang of Four) are investigated and arrested, ending ten years of the catastrophic Cultural Revolution. A conservative estimate of the number of people who died of persecution during the Cultural Revolution is 34,800. Some recent studies claim the death toll to be as high as 3 million people. 

October 8, The CCP Central Committee decides to build the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall in Beijing.

November 23, “The Art Exhibition in Celebration of Comrade Hua Guofeng Being Appointed Chairman of the CCP Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, and the Great Success of Smashing the Scheme of the Gang of Four’s Attempt to Replace the Party and Seize Power” opens at the Shanghai Art Museum; more than 240 works are displayed. 


July, The Third Plenum of the Tenth CCP Central Committee passes a resolution appointing Hua Guofeng chairman of the CCP Central Committee and reinstating Deng Xiaoping as vice chairman. 

August, The Eleventh Congress of the CCP is held, at which Hua Guofeng announces the end of the Cultural Revolution. 

October, The Central Government decides to resume both the entrance examination system and the recruiting of graduate students for institutions of higher education. 

December, An oil painting exhibition, “Chairman Mao lives in Our Hearts Forever,” is held in Beijing. 


March, “Nineteenth Century French Rural Landscape Painting,” the first large-scale exhibition of foreign art held in Beijing since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, opens.

The oil painting departments of the CAFA and Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts start recruiting graduate students.

May 11, The essay “Practice is the Sole Criterion for Testing Truth” is published by the Guangming Daily and stimulates debates nationwide. 

August, The Shanghai Art Museum holds respective exhibitions of the works of two artists Wang Shikuo and Dong Xiwen. All of their major works are included in the exhibitions. 

November, The CCP Central Committee decides to remove the labels{AU: Would “charges against” or “stigma” be better than “labels”?} for those who were accused of being Rightists in 1957.{STZ:In Chinese, the official term for the action is “remove the hat of the rightist”.}


December, The Ministry of Culture issues a notice permitting the use of human models for teaching and artistic production. 

December, The Third Plenum of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee is held in Beijing, at which it is decided that the party’s focus should be altered to building socialist modernization. The congress serves as the starting point for China’s reform and opening.


January 1, China and the United States normalize diplomatic relations.

January 28, Deng Xiaoping visits the United States. 

February, The Chinese army fights with the Vietnamese army in the borderlands between China and Vietnam. 

February, The “Twelve-Artist” exhibition is held in Shanghai. It is the first public exhibition of modernist style paintings in mainland China in fifty years. 

The Spring Waves Painting Society is established in Beijing; it was founded by the artists who participated in the “Welcome Spring” oil painting exhibition. In April, the society is renamed the Beijing Oil Painting Research Society.

May, The magazine Fine Arts publishes an article by Wu Guanzhoung, “The Beauty of Form in Paintings,” that causes debates in literary and art circles. Jiang Feng is appointed president of the CAFA by the Ministry of Culture.

July  7, N0-Name Group holds its first exhibition to public in Beijing.

July 15, The CCP Central Committee and State Council ratify the creation of four special economic zones, in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, and Xiamen, that are granted special flexibility in their economic ties with foreign countries. 

September 27, An open-air exhibition, the “Stars” art show, is held in a small park located to the east of the National Art Museum of China in  Beijing. The exhibition is moved to Beihai Park after November 23.

October, Cheng Conglin’s oil painting Snow on X Day, X Month in 1968, describing the “physical struggles” of the Cultural Revolution, is on display in the “Sichuan Art Exhibition in Celebration of the Thirtieth Birthday of the PRC.” 

The Fourth National Representatives of Literary and Art Workers Congress is held in Beijing. 

    A Beijing Oil Painting Research Society exhibition is held in Beijing.

November, The Third National Arts Workers Congress is held in Beijing; Jiang Feng is elected the chairman.

December, A group of murals for the terminal building at the new Beijing Capital Airport is completed. One of the murals, Yuan Yunsheng’s Water Splashing Festival: Song of Life, causes controversy because of its depiction of Dai minority women bathing.

shengtian zheng © 2014