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.
Leading local voices address the global Chinese diaspora’s artistic and cultural impact on the everyday lives of its more than sixty million people.
Learn more about the artists featured in this exhibition and the contexts in which artworks were produced.
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.
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.
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