Cao Fei, Whose Utopia, 2006 (detail of still); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, purchased with funds contributed by the International Director’s Council and Executive Committee Members; © Cao Fei
Exhibition

Art and China after 1989

Theater of the World

November 10, 2018–February 24, 2019

Floor 7

Bracketed by the end of the student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World presents works by more than sixty artists and artists’ groups that anticipated, chronicled, and agitated for the sweeping social transformation that saw the rise of China as a global power in the new millennium. The exhibition examines conceptually based performances, paintings, photographs, installations, videos, and socially engaged projects that question consumerism, authoritarianism, and the rapid development transforming society and China’s role in the world, placing their experiments firmly in a global art-historical context. The artists serve as both skeptics of and catalysts for the massive changes unfolding around them, and their work continues to inspire new thinking at a moment when questions of identity, equality, ideology, and control have pressing relevance.

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Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

Major support for Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is provided by Diana Nelson and John Atwater, and Susy and Jack Wadsworth.

Generous support is provided by Shannon and Dennis Wong, and Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang.

Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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This exhibition is organized by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and guest co-curators Philip Tinari, Director, UCCA, Beijing; and Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome. At the Guggenheim, Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell and Kyung An provided curatorial research and support.

The curators worked with an international advisory committee that has met under the auspices of the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.

The SFMOMA presentation is organized by Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts; Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture; and Eungie Joo, curator of contemporary art.

Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission.

Header image: Cao Fei, Whose Utopia, 2006 (detail of still); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, purchased with funds contributed by the International Director’s Council and Executive Committee Members; © Cao Fei

Exhibition Preview

  • a man dancing in the aisle of a store

    Cao Fei, Whose Utopia, 2006 (still); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, purchased with funds contributed by the International Director’s Council and Executive Committee Members; © Cao Fei

  • wooden box containing glass plane and crumpled newspaper

    Huang Yong Ping, The History of Chinese Painting and A Concise History of Modern Painting Washed in a Washing Machine for Two Minutes, 1987 (reconstructed 1993); collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2001; photo: Kristopher McKay, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2017

  • a pained portrait of two men in front of Chairman Mao

    Liu Wei, Two Drunk Painters, 1990; collection SFMOMA, gift of Vicki and Kent Logan; © Liu Wei

  • Naked bodies lying on top of each other on a mountain

    Cang Xin, Duan Yingmei, Gao Yang, Ma Liuming, Ma Zhongren, Wang Shihua, Zhang Binbin, Zhang Huan, Zhu Ming, and Zuoxiao Zuzhou, To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995 (production still); courtesy Zhang Huan

  • black and white image of a person wearing an opera mask

    Liu Zheng, An Old Peking Opera Actor Playing a Female Role, Beijing, from the series The Chinese, 1995 (printed 2006); Williams College Museum of Art, Museum purchase, Wachenheim Family Fund

  • three black and white photographs of a man dropping a vase

    Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995 (printed 2017); courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio

  • painting of men biking and pulling two dead penguins

    Wang Xingwei, New Beijing, 2001; M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong, by donation; photo: courtesy M+, Hong Kong



Exhibition Catalogue

Featuring over 150 iconic and lesser-known artworks by more than 70 artists and collectives, this catalogue offers an interpretative survey of Chinese experimental art framed by the geopolitical dynamics attending the end of the Cold War, the spread of globalization, and the rise of China.