Xu Bing Cover

Xu Bing
Nature as Language in the Art of Xu Bing
By Shelagh Vainker, with essays by Judith Goldman, Peter D. McDonald and Xu Bing

Publisher: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
ISBN 13: 978-1-854442-69-7
Pages: 200
Illustrations and Photographs: 175
Size: 8.75" x 11"
Price: Paperback $39.95
Click thumbnails for a larger image.
Exhibition news:
Xu Bing's monumental "Phoenix" assemblages can be seen at New York's St. John the Divine from January 29, 2014 for several months. His prints are featured in the Metropolitan Museum exhibit, "Ink as Art Past as Present in Contemporary China," through April 6, 2014, and a major new installation is at Victoria & Albert in London.

Xu Bing: Landscape/Landscript is a stunning new book of landscape drawings, prints, paintings, and essays published by the Ashmolean Museum that underscores the genius of the contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing. This art is as original, mentally stimulating and varied as his celebrated installations - and, as always, Xu Bing is interested in the expression of language.

The book, which accompanied the trend-setting Ashmolean exhibition, is a detailed compendium of his evolution as he continues to explore, challenge, rearrange and create new forms in landscape art, a subject he first investigated as a youngster in the Chinese countryside. His art - a dialogue with that past and the present - talks to East and West.

The Daily Info-Oxford describes his unique artistic language in treating landscape forms in his 'Landscripts' "... he captures the essence of traditional landscape painting with a brushstroke style of his own taken from the symbolic use of Chinese characters for water, tree, stone ..." Then with his The Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll, Xu literally reprints whole blocks of patterns from the 17th century art manual in one long continuous landscape scroll.

The artist works in prints, paintings, performance art, sculpture, animation and film. Among his numerous U.S. commissions: the "Living Word" suspension that opened the Morgan Library Gilbert Court, the sculpture, "Monkeys Grasping for the Moon," the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, plus works created for the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, the Princeton Art Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Where Does the Dust Itself Collect?"- his installation using dust he collected the day after the World Center tragedy - captured the inaugural Artes Mundi award (Wales).

The artist, born in southwest China in 1955, first came to the U.S. in 1989. He divides his time today between Beijing, where he is vice-president of the Central Academy of Art, and his Brooklyn, N.Y. studio.

Other books and projects are equally ground-breaking: Book from the Sky (1987-1991), a four-volume, stitch-bound book, is filled with what appear to be Chinese characters. The text is, in fact, in a script of his invention - printed with 4,000 hand-carved woodblock characters that have no intelligible meaning. A computer program/printed book he has been working involves a writing system which can be understood by anyone from any culture, literate or not.

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