All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Cathleen Cummings

Advisory Committee Members

Catherine Pagani

Heather McPherson

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Contemporary Chinese art draws attention from around the world. Western audiences are familiar with artists like Ai Weiwei艾未未, Xu Bing徐冰, Cai Guoqiang 蔡国强, and Zhang Hua 张洹, but may not have heard about the scholar-artist group. This group is unrecognized partly because American audiences have not had sufficient opportunity to see their works. As a result, American audiences are missing the chance to hear the “voice” of these artists as they provide commentary through their art regarding major social and political events in China’s modern history. This thesis will give readers a unique view of Yang Gang 杨刚, a contemporary Chinese scholar-artist, and his experiences during, and later artistic reflections following, China’s Cultural Revolution. Yang Gang’s scholarly spirit strengthened him as he endured his trials, faced the burden of being famous, and confronted the danger of being “out of fashion.” He believed humanity was out of control during the Cultural Revolution, but by pursuing truths and sublimating humanity, a humane path could be restored. Over the years, I have maintained a personal relationship with Yang Gang and his wife, Dong Zhenghe 董正贺, who also is an artist. Because of this personal connection, I have had the privilege of being able to interview them frequently. I also have access to the complete catalogue of their work with which to conduct my research, and they have kept me updated regarding new paintings or other recent artistic activities. This direct access to the artist has enabled me to write this thesis with fidelity as it pertains to Yang Gang’s life and works. If Chinese post-modernist artists make viewers re-examine existing values, Chinese modern scholar-artists call upon people to develop a new culture based on humanity, self-criticism, and sublimating differences. According to Yang Gang, his work is intended to help people to reach self-enlightenment. 中国当代艺术引起了世界的关注。西方世界熟悉艾未未、徐冰、蔡国强和张洹,但可能没有听说过学者型艺术家团体,部分原因是美国及西方观众没有足够的机会直接接触和欣赏他们的作品。因而中国学者型艺术家的“声音”也就鲜为西方聆听。从而也就缺少了解这些艺术家对中国近代历史上的重大社会和政治事件的态度和反省。 本文将提供独特的观点,以当代中国学者型艺术家杨刚(Yang Gang)对他在中国文化大革命期间的亲身经历所进行的艺术反思,为切入点,展现杨刚作为一个知识分子的风格。他淡泊名利,追求真理。他认为,文化大革命压抑了人性。但通过追求真理和对人性的敬畏,可以恢复人文精神。 多年来,我与杨刚及他的家人保持着紧密的个人关系 。我有幸能够参访并且和他们经常沟通。我有幸可以直接接触到杨刚的现存作品和他的大部分出版物。杨刚生前常常与我探讨他关于艺术的想法并且告知我他近期艺术活动的最新信息。本文尽量忠实于杨刚本人对艺术的解读,努力展现真实的杨刚和他对艺术,对生活的看法。 如果中国后现代艺术家让观众重新审视现有的价值观,那么以杨刚为代表的中国现代学者型艺术家呼吁人们发展一种基于人文,自我批评,和尊重差异的新文化。杨刚生前说他希望他的艺术能够帮助中国人觉醒。



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