Joan Lebold Cohen Archive


The Joan Lebold Cohen Archive of approximately 16,500 slides forms a collection of primary documents relating to work by artists in and from mainland China, and to a lesser extent Vietnam and other Asian territories, dating from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Highlights of this collection include rare images of artwork, artists, art groups, and art academies in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an, Nanjing, and other regional art centres in China between 1979 and 1983.

Of further interest are Cohen’s focus on mural painting projects, including the important New Capital Airport project in Beijing in 1979; images of artwork by the Yunnan School; images of street life in the post Cultural Revolution era, including examples of socialist realist inspired public sculpture, political propaganda, and public service billboards, as well as art in meeting rooms, restaurants, and hotels; art made by mainland Chinese living and exhibiting in New York in the 1980s and early 1990s; and art by women in the early and mid 1990s.
Artists covered in depth are Han Xin, Kong Boji, Qiu Deshu, Yuan Yunsheng, and Yuan Yunfu. In addition to Chinese art, the Cohen collection includes over 300 slides of work by artists from Hanoi and Saigon, Vietnam, from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Approximately 1000 artists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam are represented in this collection.
Joan Lebold Cohen is a photographer, art historian, and curator who specialises in Chinese art and film. A regular visitor to Asia since 1961, Cohen lived in Japan, Hong Kong, and China, where she was witness to the post-Cultural Revolution period of 1979 to 1981. Her book The New Chinese Painting, 1949–1986 was one of the first English-language publications to introduce recent generations of Chinese artists to the West. In addition, Cohen’s first-hand reports on the early development of Chinese contemporary art were published regularly in the Asian Wall Street Journal, Art News, and Asian Art News, as well as other newspapers and magazines.
For more information and an interview with Cohen in 2009, see Asia Art Archive’s website ‘Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980–1990’. The corresponding interview transcript can be downloaded here.

For Cohen's complete CV, please click here.

Archive Inventory

Inventory of Joan Lebold Cohen Archive
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Disclaimer: The inventory of the Joan Lebold Cohen Archive of approximately 16,500 slides, documenting work related to art and artists in and from Mainland China, working in the 1970s to the early 2000s, is presented here as an extensive searchable spreadsheet to facilitate research, study, and appreciation of Chinese art of this period. Also included in this collection is material about art from Vietnam and to a lesser extent other Asian territories. Asia Art Archive (AAA) makes no guarantee as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained here and expressly disclaims any liability. If anyone discovers information in this inventory that is mislabelled, misidentified, misspelled, or is otherwise incorrect, he or she is encouraged to contact AAA’s webmaster at

Please note Joan Lebold Cohen is the copyright holder of all the presently uploaded images, unless otherwise indicated.
AAA welcomes communications from copyright holders so that the appropriate acknowledgements can be made and to settle other permissions matters.


AAA would like to thank Joan Lebold Cohen for generously sharing her archive.

Joan interviewing Yuan Yunsheng, Beijing, 1979
Photograph of Jiang Jie in her studio of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, circa 1991.
Chen Aikang, Red Scarf, Hangzhou, 1985 
with Zheng Shengtian
Abdul Kerim Nasserding, Portrait of Wife, 1983
Mural by Yuan Yunsheng at Beijing Capital International Airport, c. 1980
Wang Keping and His Work, 1983
Advertising Posters and Billboards, early 1980s
Photograph of shelf of slide boxes at Joan Lebold Cohen's home, 2016.
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