Ink-Art-Catalogue-Cover_resized; Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China explores how contemporary works from a non-Western culture may be displayed in an encyclopedic art museum. It is the first time for the Metropolitan to present a major exhibition of Chinese contemporary art. Presented in the Museum’s permanent galleries for Chinese art, the exhibition features artworks that may best be understood as part of the continuum of China’s traditional culture. These works may also be appreciated from the perspective of global art, but by examining them through the lens of Chinese historical artistic paradigms, layers of meaning and cultural significance that might otherwise go unnoticed are revealed. Ultimately, both points of view contribute to a more enriched understanding of these artists’ creative processes.

Xu Bing “Book from the Sky” (Ca. 1987–1991) Photo: courtesy the artist

Xu Bing “Book from the Sky”
(Ca. 1987–1991) Photo: courtesy the artist

Ai-Weiwei's-ceramic-The-Wave

Ai Weiwei’s ceramic “The Wave”

For more than two millennia, ink has been the principal medium of painting and calligraphy in China. Since the early twentieth century, however, the primacy of the “ink art” tradition has increasingly been challenged by new media and practices introduced from the West. Ink Art examines the creative output of a selection of Chinese artists from the 1980s to the present who have fundamentally altered inherited Chinese tradition while maintaining an underlying identification with the expressive language of the culture’s past.

Featuring some seventy works by thirty-five artists in various media—paintings, calligraphy, photographs, woodblock prints, video, and sculpture—created during the past three decades, the exhibition is organized thematically into four parts: The Written Word, New Landscapes, Abstraction, and Beyond the Brush. Although all of the artists have challenged, subverted, or otherwise transformed their sources through new modes of expression, Ink Art seeks to demonstrate that China’s ancient pattern of seeking cultural renewal through the reinterpretation of past models remains a viable creative path.

Wu Shanzhuan (Chinese, b. 1960). Red Humour Series—Today No Water; also known as The Big Characters (dazibao), 1986. Multimedia installation; dimensions variable. Installation view at the artist's studio and Institute for Mass Culture, Zhoushan

Wu Shanzhuan (Chinese, b. 1960). Red Humour Series—Today No Water; also known as The Big Characters (dazibao), 1986. Multimedia installation; dimensions variable. Installation view at the artist’s studio and Institute for Mass Culture, Zhoushan

Song Dong (Chinese, b. 1966). Printing on Water (Performance in the Lhasa River, Tibet, 1996), 1996. Thirty-six chromogenic prints; each 23 3/4 x 15 3/4 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky (L. 2011.70.6)

Song Dong (Chinese, b. 1966). Printing on Water (Performance in the Lhasa River, Tibet, 1996), 1996. Thirty-six chromogenic prints; each 23 3/4 x 15 3/4 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky (L. 2011.70.6)

Zhang Huan “Family Tree” (2001)

Zhang Huan “Family Tree” (2001)

The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Richard and Geneva Hofheimer Memorial Fund, and Marie-Hélène Weill.

About the exhibition

Duration: December 11, 2013–April 6, 2014

Venue: Galleries 206–220, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Opening: Dec 11, 2013 Wed 15:00

Curator: Maxwell K. Hearn

Artists: Xu Bing, Gu Wenda, Qiu Zhijie, Zhang Huan, Ren Jian, Liu Dan, Yang Yongliang, Ai Weiwei, Shi Guorui, Xing Danwen, Fang Lijun, Yang Fudong, Qiu Anxiong, Wang Dongling, Zhang Yu, CaiGuo-Qiang, Huang Yongping, Zhang Jianjun, Zhan Wang, Wang Jin, etc.

Related Events:

Membership Exhibition Preview:

Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China

Tuesday, December 10, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

For Supporting, Sustaining, and Friend Members | Free with Museum Membership

Membership Class for Adults:

Thursday Mornings—Spotlight on Asian Art

Thursday, December 12, 8:30–10:00 a.m.

For Supporting and Sustaining Members | Fee: $900 for the four-session seminar

Gallery Talk:

Exhibition Tour—Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China

Thursday, December 19, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Free with Museum admission, though tickets are required

Courtesy of  the artists and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for further information please visit www.metmuseum.org.

Related posts: