BOOK REVIEWS CHINESE ART
Contributed by China art scene specialist Pippa Dennis, founder of Asia Art Forum.
Nine Lives, The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China
Karen Smith, Scalo 2008
Easy to read, insightful account tracking the careers of the main protagonists to spearhead the emergence of contemporary art in modern China. Karen Smith has lived in China since 1992 and many of these artists are personal friends. This intimate relationship gives her account an added edge as the book traces the story of their rise against a backdrop of dramatic economic and social transformation in China.
Mahjong Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection
Feng Boyi, Christoph Heinrich, Pi Li and Uli Sigg 2005
The book to accompany the exhibition that toured the world, bringing the largest collection of Chinese contemporary art to the international public. Uli Sigg, formerly the Swiss ambassador in Beijing, began collecting in the early 1990s and has since amassed a total of 1,200 works. This catalogue presents a selection of over 200 works but its essays by some of China’s most prominent writers and critics give the catalogue its must read status.
Semiotic Warfare, The Chinese Avant-Garde: 1979-1989
Martine Koeppel-Yang, Hong Kong, 2003
One of the few English language academic books focusing on the emergence of the Chinese Avant-Garde and placing its development within its cultural, economic and political context. This work is critical in its ability to contextualise what was happening in China’s artistic development with what was happening on the international stage.
Between Past and Future
Wu Hung and Christopher Phillips 2004
Essential reading for anyone interested in lens-based work coming out of China. This book catalogues the first exhibition to comprehensively examine experimental photography and video work from China since the mid 90s. Excellent essay by veteran curator of photography Christopher Phillips.
Inside Out: New Chinese Art
Gao Minglu, University of California Press, 1998
Another book to accompany an exhibition. This time Gao Minglu, one China’s great theorists, curates the exhibition and edits this publication. Inside Out is a survey show that presents work from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas Chinese artists. Gao succeeds in setting out the historic and cultural distinctions between these regions whilst examining issues of modernity and identity that relate to all four.
About Pippa Dennis
Pippa Dennis has been living in Shanghai for the last four years and worked for Eastlink Gallery before establishing Asia Art Forum. She has an MA in Art History from St Andrews University. For more on lectures and programmes offered by Asia Art Forum www.asiaartforum.com
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