Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, October 6, 2017 – January 7, 2018

“The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, a major exhibition of contemporary art from China spanning 1989 to 2008, arguably the most transformative period of modern Chinese and recent world history. A fresh interpretative survey of Chinese experimental art framed by the geopolitical dynamics resulting from the end of the Cold War, the spread of globalization, and the rise of China, Art and China after 1989. The exhibition, the largest of its kind ever in North America, looks at a bold contemporary art movement that anticipated, chronicled, and agitated for the sweeping social transformation that has brought China to the center of the global conversation. With a concentration on the conceptualist art practices of two generations of artists, this exhibition examines how Chinese artists have been both critical observers and agents of China’s emergence as a global presence and places their experiments firmly in a global art-historical context.” — Guggenheim Museum   

“Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World revolves around key artists, groups, and movements active across China and internationally, whose provocations aim to forge reality free from ideology, to establish the individual apart from the collective, and to define contemporary Chinese experience in universal terms,” remarks lead curator Alexandra Munroe. “This focused examination invites us to consider our own recent history through the lens of some of the most thoughtful contemporary artists from China.”

Zhang Peili. 30 x 30, 1988. Color video, with sound, 32 min., 9 sec. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Wenda Gu. 36 Vanishing Gold Section Pigments, 1991. Mineral pigment in 36 parts, overall trench dimensions: 3 m deep ×150 m × 7 m. Installation view: Exceptional Passage: Chinese Avant-Garde Artists Exhibition, former Kashii Rail Yard, Fukuoka, Japan, August 29–September 30, 1991. Photo: courtesy the artist

Zhang Hongtu. In Memory of Tseng Kwong Chi, 1991. (detail) Photocopy and epoxy resin, 15 pieces, between 30.5 × 28 cm and 34.9 × 28 cm each. Collection of the artist. Photo: courtesy the artist

Zhao Bandi. Young Bandi, 1992. Oil on canvas, 214 x 140 cm. Private collection. Image courtesy ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai

Yu Hong. Deng Xiaoping’s Tour in the South of China, “China Pictorial,: p. 2, no.6, 1992 and 1992, Twenty-Six Years Old, A still of the Film “The days,” 2001, from Witness to Growth, 1999-present. Two parts, left: inkjet print, 68 x 100 cm; right: acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. Collection of the artist, Beijing © Yu Hong

Huang Yong Ping. Theater of the World, 1993. Wood and steel structure with wire mesh, warming lamps, electric cable, insects (African millipedes, house crickets, goliath beetles, hissing cockroaches, lubber grasshoppers, and stag beetles), leopard geckos, and Italian wall lizards, 150 x 270 x 160 cm. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi © Huang Yong Ping

Chen Shaoxiong. 5 Hours, 1993/2006. DSL Collection Performance view: The Third Artistic Event of the Big Tail Elephant Working Group, outside Red Ant Bar, Guangzhou, November 24, 1993 © Chen Shaoxiong. Photo: courtesy the artist

Liu Dan. Splendor of Heaven and Earth, 1994—1995. Ink on paper, 190 x 500 cm. Collection of Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang. Image courtesy of Akiki Yamazaki and Jerry Yang

Zhou Tiehai. There Came a Mr. Solomon to China, 1994. Ink, graphite, watercolor, and paper collage, 230 × 350 cm. Collection of Laurence A. Rickels. Photo: courtesy the artist

Song Dong. Stamping the Water, 1996. 36 chromogenic prints, 61 × 40 cm each. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky. Performance view: Keepers of the Waters: Public Art concerning Water, Lhasa, Tibet, August 18–19, 1996. Photo: courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery

Chen Zhen. Fu Dao/Fu Dao, Upside-Down Buddha/Arrival at Good Fortune, 1997. Steel, bamboo, resin Buddha statues, washing machine, computer monitor, tires, bicycle, fan, chair, household appliances, other found objects, and string, approximately 350 x 800 x 550 cm overall. Courtesy Galleria Continua, San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/ Havana

Jiang Zhi. Object in Drawer, 1997. Three chromogenic prints, 150 x 100 cm each. Collection of the artist. Photo: courtesy the artist

Wang Xingwei. New Beijing, 2001. Oil on canvas, 200 × 300 cm. M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong, By donation. Photo: courtesy M+, Hong Kong

Cao Fei. RMB City: A Second Life City Planning by China Tracy (aka: Cao Fei), 2007. Color video, with sound, 6 min. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, with additional funds contributed by Shanghai Tang, 2008.30 © Cao Fei

Qiu Zhijie. Map of “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” 2017. Ink on paper, mounted to silk, six panels, 240 x 720 cm overall. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift of the artist with additional funds contributed by the International Director’s Council T31.2017. Photo courtesy the artist

Title Image: Chen Zhen. (detail) Precipitous Parturition, 1999. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is organized by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, at the Guggenheim. Guest cocurators are Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, and Hou Hanru, Artistic Director of MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome.