Despite the liveliness and creativity of avant-garde Chinese art in the post-Mao era and its prominence in the world of international contemporary art, until now there has been no systematic introduction to this important work in any Western language. Moreover, most of the relevant primary documents have existed only in Chinese, scattered in hard-to-find publications. Contemporary Chinese Art remedies this situation by bringing together carefully selected primary texts in English translation. Arranged in chronological order, the texts guide readers through the development of avant-garde Chinese art from 1976 until 2006. Because experimental Chinese art emerged as a domestic phenomenon in the 1970s and 1980s and its subsequent development has been closely related to China’s social and economical transformation, this volume focuses on art from mainland China. At the same time, it encompasses the activities of mainland artists residing overseas, since artists who emigrated in the 1980s and 1990s were often key participants in the early avant-garde movements and have continued to interact with the mainland art world. The primary documents include the manifestos of avant-garde groups, prefaces to important exhibitions, writings by representative artists, important critical and analytical essays, and even some official documents. Each chapter and section begins with a concise preface explaining the significance of the texts and providing the necessary historical background; the volume includes a timeline summarizing important art phenomena and related political events.
Publication of the Museum of Modern Art
About the Author
Wu Hung is the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. His many books include Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space, Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century, and (with Christopher Phillips) Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China. He has curated many international exhibitions of Chinese art.
Peggy Wang is Assistant Professor of Art History at Denison University.
Table of Contents
Part One: Contemporary Art as Domestic Movement, 1976–89 I. The Beginning of Contemporary Art: 1979–84 Introduction Unofficial Art Groups and Exhibitions Preface to the First Nature, Society, and Man Exhibition (Ziran, shehui, ren) (1979) / Wang Zhiping Preface to the First Stars Art Exhibition (Xingxing meizhan) (1979) / Huang Rui A Letter to the People (1979) / Xu Wenli, Liu Qing, et al About the Stars Art Exhibition (1980) / Li Xianting A Debate on "Formal Beauty" and Other Issues Formalist Aesthetics in Painting (1979) / Wu Guanzhong Emotion Individuality, Formal Aesthetics (1979) / Liu Shaohui New Directions in Realist Painting Scar Art Some Thoughts on Creating the Picture-Story Book Maple (Feng) (1980) / Chen Yiming, Liu Yulian, and Li Bin Man's Rational Meditation: A Brief Discussion of Cheng Conglin's Thematic Oil Paintings (1970s/1994) / Deng Pingxiang Native Soil Art A Letter from the Artist of Father (Fuqin) (1981) / Lui Zhongli My Seven Paintings (1981) / Chen Danqing Melancholy Youth and "Contemplative Painting" Expecting Her to Walk on the Main Road (1981) / Wang Chuan "Contemplative Painting" in China and Andrew Wyeth (1985) / Ruan Xudong II. The Arrival of an Avant-Garde Movement: 1985–86 Political and Intellectual Contexts Enlightenment of a New Era: On In the New Era (Zai xinshidai) (1985) / Zhang Qun and Meng Luding Pioneers of Contemporary Chinese Art—A Critique of the Progressive Young Chinese Artists Exhibition (1985) / Zhao Jinghaun Beijing Theorists' Reaction to the Art of Robert Rauschenberg (1985) / Zhu Ye Foreword to Fine Arts in China (1985) Appendix. A Nationwide Forum and Model: Art Magazines and Symposia (2003) / Martina Koppel-Yang '85 Art New Wave General Discussions The '85 Art Movement (1986) / Gao Minglu The Significance is Not the Art (1986) / Li Jiatun A Summary of Evaluations of the '85 Arts Movement (1986) / Gao Minglu Appendix. The Landscape of China's Modern Art Movment (1991) / Tong Dian Writings by Members of Selected Art Groups We—Participants of the "'85 Art Movement" (1986) / Wang Guangyi An Explanation of the Northern Art Group (1987) / Shu Qun On New Space and the Pond Society (1987) / Shi Jiu New Figurative: Manifestation and Transcendence in Figurative Patterns of Life (1987) / Mao Xuhui Red Brigade Precept (1987) / Ding Fang Statement on Burning (1986) / Huang Yong Ping Introduction to The Events Exhibition that Took Place at the Exhibition Hall of the Fujian Art Museum (1986) / Huang Yong Ping Toward a Physical State of Contemporary Art Itself (1986) / Wang Du III. From Collectivity to Individual Creativity: 1987—89 Rethinking the Movement Returning to Art Itself (1988) / Jia Fangzhou Rethinking Art Purifying Artistic Language A Few Thoughts (1988) / Zhu Zude and Liu Zhenggang Absurdity and Irrationality Non-Expressive Paintings (1986) / Huang Yong Ping Art as Process Looking for Something Different in a Quiet Place (1989) / Xu Bing Regarding "Analysis" (1989) / Chen Shaoping Challenging Modernism—An Interview with Wenda Gu (1986) / Fei Dawei Against the Public The Point of Departure for Art Project No. 2 (Yishu jihua di er hao) (1988/2007) / Zhang Peili The China/Avant-Garde Exhibition The Exhibition Background Material on the China/Avant-Garde Exhibition (1989) / Zhou Yan Confessions of a China/Avant-Garde Curator (1989) / Li Xianting A Brief Account of China/Avant-Garde (1989) / Hang Jian and Cao Xiao'ou The "End" of the New Wave Facing the End of the New Wave: An Interview with Fine Arts in China (1989) / Peng De The Modernist Dilemma and Our Options (1989) / Yi Ying Part Two: Globalization and a Domestic Turn, 1990–2000 I. Intrinsic Perspectives Artistic Trends in the Early 1990s (1990–93) New Generation and Close Up Artists (1992) / Yin Jinan Apathy and Deconstruction in Post-'89 Art: Analyzing the Trends of "Cynical Realism" and "Political Pop" (1992) / Li Xianting Appendix. The Misread Great Criticism (Da pipan) (2008) / Huang Zhuan Tendencies in Chinese Pop (1996) / Gu Chengfeng A Survey of Contemporary Chinese Performance Art (1999) / Gao Ling Major Trends in Contemporary Chinese Art of the Mid- to Late 1990s Identity and Experience Self A Personal Account of 65 Kg (1994/2000) / Zhang Huan Four Notes (1994) / Ma Liuming The Boundary of Freedom: A Personal Statement on Assignment No. 1 (Zuoye yihao) (1994/2000) / Qiu Zhijie Report from the Artist's Studio (1996) / Interview with Zhang Xiaogang by Huang Zhuan Preface to It's Me! (Shi wo!) (1998/2000) / Leng Lin Feminism and Women's Art Walking Out of the Abyss: My Feminist Critique (1994) / Xu Hong Toward a Female Initiative (1996/2003) / Tao Yongbai Wrapping and Severing (1997) / Lin TianmiaoClothes Chest (Yixiang) (1995) / Yin Xiuzhen Engagement with Social Transformation Gaudy Art Living in Kitsch—The Critical "Irony" of Gaudy Art (1999) / Liao Wen Urban Destruction and Construction "Changchun, China": A Report on a Performance of Making Rubbings from Buildings Slated for Demolition (1994) / Huang Yan "94 Action Plan for Debris Salvage Schemes for Implementation and Results (1994) / Zhan Wang New Map of Beijing: Today and Tomorrow's Capital—Rockery Remolding Plan (1995) / Zhan WangOne Hour Game (Youxi yi Xiaoshi) (1996/1997) / Liang Juhui Report on Zhang Dali's Dialogue (Duihua) (1998) / Jiang Tao A Dialogue on Dialogue (200) / Gou Hongbing with Zhang Dali Sociality in Contemporary Art State of Existence (1994) / Zhu Fadong12 Square Meters (12 pingfang mi) (1994) / Zhang HuanIce '96 Central Plains (Bing: 96 Zhongyuan) (1996/2000) / Wang Jin On Painted Sculptures (1995/1997) / Liu JianhuaStandard Family (Biaozhun jiating) (1996/1997) / Wang Jinsong Why do I want to photograph the streets of Guangzhou? (2002) / Chen Shaoxiong Experimental Photography and Video Art Photography Trends and States of Photography's Development in Mainland China since 1976 (1994) / Li Mei and Yang Xiaoyan Appendix. Zero to Infinity: