The Art of Xu Bing: Words Without Meaning, Meaning Without Words

The Art of Xu Bing: Words Without Meaning, Meaning Without Words

Paperback(New Edition)



Xu Bing (born 1955) stands out as a leading figure in the international art world. His works and installation pieces, including Ghosts Pounding the Wall (an actual rubbing of the Great Wall done at Jinshanling in 1990) and Wu Street (1993), and his ongoing exploration of language have brought worldwide attention to this unassuming provocateur.

As a teenager in China during its Cultural Revolution, Xu Bing experienced the emotional and social upheavals that marked this tumultuous time. He was removed from his "reactionary" parents in Beijing and sent to the provinces to work in a small farming commune as part of Mao Zedong's "rustication" program in 1974. His forced participation in the revolution led him to question and reexamine all he had known, from the meaning and appearance of Chinese characters to the purpose of the Great Wall of China and the value of art and culture.

An accomplished calligrapher, printmaker, and art teacher, Xu Bing turned his simultaneous interest in and mistrust of language into an extended examination of Chinese characters. The result was the Book from the Sky, a powerful installation of books, scrolls, and panels for which Xu Bing invented hundreds of new characters in the late 1980s. This uneasy play between the familiar and the unknown -- these words without meaning -- caused an uproar in the Beijing art community and led the Chinese government to censor Xu Bing and his art. The artist emigrated to the United States in 1990.

Featuring works in Square Word Calligraphy, his whimsical, invented style of writing, The Art of Xu Bing traces the calligrapher's career and provides illustrations and in-depth descriptions of his works, which have been shown from Finland to Australia and the United States. Author and art historian Britta Erickson leads this insightful look into Xu Bing's development as a significant international artist, and Xu Bing himself contributes a fascinating chapter on his life and work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295981437
Publisher: University of Washington Press and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Publication date: 10/28/2001
Series: Asian Art and Culture Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 4.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Table of Contents

The Living Word13
1The Quiet Iconoclast21
2Mistrust of Language and the Book from the Sky33
3Language as Intellectual Game47
4To Be Human59
5Serve the People67
Further Reading78
Chinese Names and Terms81

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