Organized Panel Session
This panel focuses on art of the difficult decades immediately after World War II to begin an interrogation of the significance of Cold War geopolitical orientations on the formation of contemporary East Asian art. Two papers will consider the appearance of Asian avant-garde art in the environment of a U.S. aligned foreign policy, the first on Taiwan abstraction in the Fifth Moon and Tonfon movements in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the second on South Korean performance art in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Two papers will look at new artistic developments promoted in the context of mainland China’s post-1949 cultural exchanges with non-aligned or Eastern bloc cultures. Open political dissent was hazardous or impossible in all four cases, but individual artistic identities were forged nevertheless, and often form an unwritten subtext for contemporary critical narratives. The panel thus aims to begin debate on some of the subtexts that are obfuscated by the globalized art world, particularly as defined by the recent biennial, triennial, and art fair boom that has brought artists from different parts of Asia together in the same conceptual and physical spaces, and to examine how they may be affected by both this recently divergent past and the local discourse in their contemporary environments. Paired perspectives across the Cold War divide will thus conclude with our discussant’s analysis of the extent to which such legacies might inform understanding of Asian art in today’s exhibition culture.