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Art and Politics – Political Criticism in Taiwanese Art during Pre- and Post-Lifting of Martial Law Era (1983-1992)
lifting of Martial Law
In the history of Taiwan art, long-term isolation between art and society has led to the exclusion of political development from the art world. The critical characteristic of art creators was absent in the development of Taiwan’s art history. However, with the gradual openness and modernization of Taiwan's society around the time of Martial Law in 1980s, there was a significant turn in the art creation guideline of "art for art's sake". In this era, Taiwan's economic conditions gradually improved, art museums were established one after another, and the authority of art exhibitions was officially decoupled from government-run art exhibitions and market mechanisms. At the same time, the social atmosphere was opening up, and relatively inclusive, avant-garde and pioneering ideas spread as social movements flourished. In addition, Taiwanese people began to be exposed to international critical thoughts and theories, therefore the intervention of "critical theory" provided a more aggressive reason and experience to learn from for social movements. "Criticism" finally became the basis of democratization and the symbol of the era, and the art environment in Taiwan was also influenced by this trend, which led to the development of "political criticism" as the main theme. Taiwanese artists before and after the lifting of Martial Law were different from those in the past. Through their artworks and political issues on the theme of Taiwan's society, the artists during the period engaged in dialogue, reflection and criticism. However, this force receded in the field of art with the gradual success of democratization. The intensity of political criticism in Taiwanese art reached its highest peak before and after Martial Law was lifted, and became an epochal phenomenon unprecedented in the history. This study is concerned with the critical nature and roots of Taiwanese art reflecting political issues before and after the lifting of Martial Law. Moreover, it further investigates what objective factors and conditions prevented the development of political criticism in Taiwanese art before 1980s, and what conditions and historical circumstances led to the emergence of a large number of politically critical artworks and the formation of a culture of political criticism in Taiwanese art during the period.
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