Dong Xiwen (1914–1973) By Geng, Yan
Dong Xiwen [董希文] was a modern Chinese painter, whose art was widely appreciated in Communist China. Dong attended the National Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, and in his early career experimented with a diverse range of artistic styles and demonstrated great creative talent. His art underwent a radical change after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. After moving to Beijing in the mid-1940s, Dong Xiwen began to make art in support of the Communist Party. He joined the Communist Party in 1949, and became one of the PRC’s most prominent painters, producing compelling paintings as part of state commissions while also teaching at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. His most famous commissioned work is The Founding of the Nation, commemorating the historical moment when Mao Zedong [毛泽东] proclaimed the People’s Republic of China atop of the Tiananmen gate in 1949. This painting was recognized as a model of new political art, not only articulating communist ideology, but also acting as an exemplar of nationalized oil painting. However, Dong was later forced to revise the painting twice, removing the disgraced figures from his monumental piece.