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 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. Art and China after 1989 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.


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

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.

Made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH logo

Major support for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s presentation is provided by Susy and Jack Wadsworth. Generous support is provided by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang.

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

  • 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