The artistic heritage of Taiwan is extremely diverse with multiple major influences and periods. Today Taiwan is one of the world’s most significant art markets.

Art was first institutionalized in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period with the establishment of public schools dedicated to the fine arts. The Japanese introduced oil and watercolor paintings to Taiwan and Taiwanese artists were heavily influenced by their Japanese counterparts. As was typical of colonial rulers the Japanese did not establish tertiary institutions for art education in Taiwan, all students wishing to pursue an advanced degree in the arts had to travel to Japan to do so.

In the 1920s the New Cultural Movement influenced a generation of artists who used art as a way to demonstrate their equality with, or even their superiority over, their colonizers.

When the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 they brought many of China’s most prestigious artists and a large portion of the former Qing Imperial art collection with them. The artists Huang Chun-pi, Pu Ru, and Chang Dai-chien who all came to Taiwan during this period are collectively known as the “three masters from across the strait.” The Nationalists also established the first art colleges and universities in Taiwan. Along with Chinese influences the Nationalists also allowed the United States to establish a series of military bases in Taiwan, American pop culture and artistic ideas such as abstract expressionism were introduced to Taiwan by the Americans. Schools such as the May Art Association, a revolutionary art group, and Eastern Art Association, an avant-garde group flourished during this time. The Ton-Fan group, founded in Taipei in 1956 by eight artists, brought abstraction to Taiwan. The Ton-Fan group reacted to Government disapproval of avant-garde art by championing it.

The next major influence came when the ROC left the United Nations in 1971, this unmooring from the international community caused artists to search for an identity and a sense of self, a search which continues up to the present. Artists of this era such as Lee Shi-chi and Shiy De-jinn adopted Taiwanese folk motifs and other elements from Taiwan’s traditional culture however the Taiwanese art scene still chafed under the KMT’s military dictatorship.

Democratization in the late 1980s and the lifting of martial law granted Taiwanese artists freedom of expression for the first time in history. The end of military rule allowed the Taiwanese to access films, literature, philosophy and culture from abroad which had been denied to them or censored. Artists and activists began to grapple with the legacy of authoritarianism and embraced things like queer culture which had been oppressed under the dictatorship. The economic boom of the ’80s and ‘90s also saw the financial resources of Taiwanese museums and patrons increase significantly. As Taiwan’s art scene matured there began to be a greater specialization in exhibit spaces with dedicated museums for things like photography and ceramics opening.

After the end of single party rule indigenous Taiwanese artists and groups began exploring and rediscovering their cultural heritage, this revival also led to a larger social embrace of indigenous culture. In the 21st century Taiwan’s artistic community embraced new technologies and new mediums. The Taiwanese government has begun to champion and highlight Aboriginal art. An indigenous artist is selected to represent Taiwan for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 2021.

Many contemporary Taiwanese artists grapple with issues of globalization in their work. LGBTQ artists in modern Taiwan enjoy a degree of freedom denied in other Asian countries. This has made Taiwan a haven and a hub for both domestic and international LGBTQ artists. Its freedoms have also made it a safe haven for artists like Kacey Wong fleeing an increasingly oppressive environment in Hong Kong.

Artists Include:

Chang Yun-ming
Chang Yun-mingTaiwan
Glassware-Ceramics - Chang Yun-ming - Taiwan - 4-Sided Pottery vase 38cm tall. Erotic females in various state of repose.

4-Sided Pottery vase 38cm tall. Erotic females in various state of repose.