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Contemporary Chinese Peasant Painting  

by Renee Covalucci
Last Updated: May 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Introduction Print Page

Crossing the Bridge


PowerPoint Slides

These files contain slides of the peasant painting images referenced in this curriculum guide. These images are available for personal or educational use only, and are not for commercial use or reproduction. All images copyright Renee Covalucci.

Further Information

For more information about Hu County Peasant Art, please visit the sites below.


Background Narrative

This form of painting, which in the West would be categorized as folk or naive painting, became popular during the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976). Images depicting peoples' every day lives in the fields, performing productive agricultural and labor routines became a natural focus under the regime of Chairman Mao. Artists in places like Hu County in Shaanxi Province (near Xi'an), where these painting were made, were discovered and became popular. This particular series of Peasant Paintings, by a mature, female artist named Dong, were done in a studio production method. While Dong designs the initial composition, color and execution of the image her artist-assistants work with her reproduce her paintings (under her close direction to meet her standards with each reproduction).

  • Look at these paintings for style, subject, and sophistication within the realm of self-taught/naive art.
  • Look at the vibrant color and beauty.
  • Hu County is rich with painters working in this style. Think about skills and practices being passed down through generations of families living in a fertile art community.

Also remember that while Peasant Painting as an art form became popularized in the late 1960's and 1970's these were done in the late 1990s so the subjects have changed through China's modernization. Typically contemporary Peasant Paintings depict: festivals, daily routines: preparing food, doing laundry, traditional parades (lanterns, dragons), animals and fish. Some tell stories with symbolism (i.e. The Beginning and Ending of Harvest) This curriculum resource will provide potential lesson topics and areas of discovery and a set of images for teachers of Art, Chinese Culture & History at elementary, middle and high school levels. The paintings may serve as supplementary visuals for k-8 teachers of Science, and geography.


About the author

Renee Covalucci is a former high school art teacher in the Concord public schools. She served as their visual arts curriculum coordinator for six years while the community was developing standards to meet the Massachusetts State Frameworks. Renee is also a former Program Associate of Primary Source. Currently she works at the University of Massachusetts Boston in the China Program Center. She would like to credit her colleagues who have loaned their Peasant Paintings to produce this resource. Thanks to Johanna Glazer and Jennifer Greeley of Concord-Carlisle High School, and to Thom Carter of Clarke Middle School in Lexington.


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