Cultural Revolution - Policy and Effect - Arts

Arts

During the Cultural Revolution, there was an overhaul of many of the arts, with the intention of producing new and innovative art that reflected the benefits of a socialist society. As a part of this, many artists whose work was deemed to be bourgeoise or anti-socialist were persecuted and prevented from working.

At the same time, other art forms flourished in the People's Republic during the Revolution. One of the most notable examples of this was the Peking opera, which saw “some amazing achievements in those years” under the leadership of such figures as Yu Huiyong. One of China's most important playwrights and directors of the late twentieth century, Zhang Guangtian, has argued that during the Cultural Revolution, the innovations that were encouraged in the Peking Opera—which primarily involved “the formalism and style of simplification and concision”—led it into one of its greatest periods.

Another form of the arts which was influenced, much in the same style as was the traditional theatre, was popular song. Many revolution-themed songs, such as "Ode to the Motherland", "Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman", "The East Is Red" and "Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China" were either written or became extremely popular during this period. "The East Is Red", especially, became popular; it de facto supplanted "The March of the Volunteers" as the national anthem of China, though the latter was restored to its previous place after the Cultural Revolution ended.

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