Contemporary Chinese art has grown rapidly since the changes that occurred in the arts scene following the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and after Mao’s death in 1976. Commonly referred to as avant-garde art, contemporary art is seen as having developed during the 1980s as a result of a relaxation of the restrictions on the content and themes of art works.
Censorship was very tight up until the 1980s, with artists dealing with themes approved of by the Communist Party being endorsed and patronised by the Party, while artists who criticised the Party through their works or dealt with themes deemed inappropriate were sent away for ‘re-education’ in the countryside as part of the Cultural Revolution.
While these restrictions have been relaxed in absolute terms, they still to this day remain relatively tight, with notable modern artists being refused access to the media and having exhibitions shut down because of the content or politically sensitive nature of their work. The famous contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is a notable example.
While Chinese art of the past has traditionally focused on calligraphy, painting, pottery, and sculpture; contemporary Chinese art also encompasses film, video, photography, and performance arts.
In terms of collectable Chinese coins, artists and their works have tended to be commemorated only after their death. However, there has been limited commemoration of contemporary art in the field of Chinese numismatics. A series of two coins was issued in 2005 commemorating 100 years of the Chinese film industry. While these coins do not specifically commemorate work produced today, they are a commemoration of one of the contemporary arts. Despite this, contemporary Chinese art is largely underrepresented on collectable Chinese coins.