Archive: museum
What is Dansaekhwa?

What is Dansaekhwa?

Korean Abstract Art - Kim Whanki and Dansaekhwa, Powerlong Museum, Shanghai

Installation view of Korean Abstract Art – Kim Whanki and Dansaekhwa with works by Chung Chang-Sup, Chung Sang-Hwa, Ha Chong-Hyun, Kim Whanki, Kwon Young-Woo, Lee Ufan and Park Seo-Bo at Powerlong Museum, Shanghai, 2018-2019

What is Dansaekhwa?

Dansaekhwa is an art movement born in South Korea in the 1970s. The pioneers of Dansaekhwa are born between 1913 and 1936 and avoided any reference to Western realism in their works, creating primarily monochrome and minimalist paintings. Dansaekhwa has had a breath of new life, thanks to the efforts and talent of Octogenarian artists that stuck to this art style. Now, dealers, art fair organizers, museum curators and collectors can breathe a sigh of relief because what has been neglected for close to half a century has come to the public limelight. It was at a time of political strife and dictatorship1 that this painting technique sprouted. While the art had been practiced as a movement for all this time, it would not be until two years ago that the West got wind of its existence.

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What is Xu Bing’s impressive ‘Book from the Sky’ all about?

What is Xu Bing’s impressive ‘Book from the Sky’ all about?

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, Blanton Museum of Art

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Introduction

The Book from the Sky is one of the most intriguing Chinese art installations of the century, and the nifty work of none other than the celebrated Chinese artist Xu Bing. This installation comprises a set of 4 hand-printed books, as well as wall and ceiling scrolls printed in the style of a wood letterpress. What’s more interesting is that these books and scrolls are filled with invented glyphs and pseudo-characters designed to mimic traditional Chinese characters.

Produced in ca. 1987-1991 as a single print run of 126 copies, the book set contains four volumes with a total of 604 pages. Xu Bing publicly exhibited Book from the Sky for the first time in 1988 at the China Art Gallery (now National Art Museum of China1) in Beijing.

This iconic ink on paper art was earlier titled Mirror to Analyze the World: The Century’s Final Volume before adopting its current title. At one point, however, Xu Bing felt that Nonsense Writing would have been a more appropriate title.

The Reaction and Critique

Despite countless scholarly reviews, its several exhibitions and popularity across the globe, Book of the Sky’s true purpose and meaning has remained elusive. For instance, the inclusion of the word “sky” in the title has been a huge source of tongue-wagging. Well, every critic, art lover and scholar is entitled to their own opinion and interpretation of this one.

For most critics and scholars, however, Book from the Sky is a clever contradiction and manifestation of Xu Bing’s long preoccupation with text and language. It’s absurd that such an elaborate text can’t be read, making the books and scrolls meaningless to the reader. It is often thought that the work is his reflection of the manipulation and misuse of language and text during Mao Zedong’s reign. In a broader sense, the art installation provides the viewer with deep insights into the identity of Chinese people influenced by text.

The Production of the work

The books and scrolls were created using a battery of 4000 invented characters, which is intentionally close to the number of traditional Chinese characters. In fact, Xu composed these pseudo-characters based on Kangxi radicals2. That’s why they resemble traditional characters on the page and in terms of strokes’ density. However, there’s a slight squatter in the style of these characters when compared to common Chinese typefaces like Song3.

About Xu Bing

Born in 1955 in Sichuan Province, Xu Bing is a celebrated Chinese artist who grew up during the Cultural Revolution. After studying printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Xu relocated to the U.S. in 1990. However, he returned 18 years later to teach at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. His work has been exhibited in museums and art galleries world over, most notably the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and the Blanton Museum of Art in Texas.

Photos: Installation views

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable, Installation view at the Blanton Museum of Art, 2016, photo Colin Doyle
Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable, installation view at the Blanton Museum of Art, 2016
Photo: Colin Doyle

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, Blanton Museum of Art
Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable, Installation view at the Blanton Museum of Art, 2016
Photo: Colin Doyle

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable 1
Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable, installation view at the Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, Texas, 2016

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable, installation view at the Blanton Museum of Art, 2016
Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable, installation view at the Blanton Museum of Art, 2016
Photo: Colin Doyle

Photos: Details

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Detail of Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Detail of Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Detail of Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Detail of Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Detail of Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Detail of Xu Bing - Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable
Detail of Xu Bing – Book from the Sky, 1987-1991, installation of hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type, ink on paper, dimensions variable

Video: Documentary

24min 10sec

In this video, Xu Bing speaks about why he created a new and ‘meaningless’ language.

Related works

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What font is used in Barbara Kruger’s art?

What font is used in Barbara Kruger’s art?

Barbara Kruger - Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989
Barbara Kruger – Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989

Introduction

Barbara Kruger’s art is easily one of the most recognizable on the planet. Characterized by the bold white Futura1 Oblique and sometimes caps locked sans serif, her artwork forces audiences to take a hard look at the institutions that she satirizes. Both direct and political, her art is designed to question the modern political and democratic process while challenging societal notions of sexism, consumerism and corruption.

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Yinka Shonibare spent months of research for this sculpture

Yinka Shonibare spent months of research for this sculpture

Yinka Shonibare - End of Empire, 2016, Turner Contemporary, photo Stephen White 5

Yinka Shonibare - End of Empire, 2016, Turner Contemporary, photo Stephen White 5
Yinka Shonibare MBE – End of Empire, 2016, Turner Contemporary
Photo: Stephen White

About Yinka Shonibare

Leading UK contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare is an Honored Member of the Order of the British Empire, which is why the moniker MBE has become integral to his title. As one of the most revered and well-recognized contemporary artists in the world today, the name Yinka is synonymous with historical allusions.

Yinka’s amalgamations of noteworthy moments in international and artistic histories imitate his own hybrid Nigerian and British identity. His wax fabrics, which have a complex yet sophisticated pedigree, have truly become his signature, as is evidenced by the artist’s love for exquisite period costumes and headless mannequins that mimic classic scenes from world history.

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The exhibition of the year? Giacometti / Bacon at Fondation Beyeler

The exhibition of the year? Giacometti / Bacon at Fondation Beyeler

Installation view of Bacon - Giacometti at Fondation Beyeler, L Homme qui marche by Alberto Giacometti along other works 1
Installation view of BaconGiacometti at Fondation Beyeler, L Homme qui marche by Alberto Giacometti among other works, 2018
Photo: Public Delivery

About the Alberto Giacometti & Francis Bacon exhibition at Fondation Beyeler

The Fondation Beyeler sheds light on the exciting relationship between Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon. Both artists have created impressive works, which are now among the most expensive artworks.

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A first look at the new, intimate Giacometti museum in Paris

A first look at the new, intimate Giacometti museum in Paris

Alberto Giacometti museum, Montparnasse, Paris, reconstructed atelier
Reconstructed studio of Alberto Giacometti on 23m2 including more than 70 original artworks at Institut Giacometti, Paris
Photo: Public Delivery

About the Institut Giacometti, Paris

Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti has a new exhibition space in Paris. Hosted in an Art Nouveau villa, this museum shows a reconstruction of his legendary studio, including furniture and walls on which he left numerous sketches. The new space is located in the former artists’ district of Montparnasse, just a few blocks from the original Parisian studio, where Giacometti worked from 1926 until his death in 1966.

Some of the artworks are very fragile and have never been shown in public. This project is initiated by the Fondation Giacometti, which owns the largest Giacometti collection worldwide.

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Tomás Saraceno created this seemingly impossible installation

Tomás Saraceno created this seemingly impossible installation

Tomás Saraceno - In Orbit, 2013. Installation view, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf
Tomás SaracenoIn Orbit, 2013, permanent installation at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf

Introduction

A massive installation by Tomás Saraceno titled In Orbit has to be one of the artist’s most notable and successful installations. At a height of more than 20 meters, Saraceno suspended a mesh construction within which audiences could move weightlessly on the net. The net construction, which was accessible on 3 levels, was designed to resemble a cloud setting or landscape.

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