The Art of Mu Xin:
Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes
Co-curated by Alexandra Munroe and Wu Hung
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, and the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2001
“Within the dark flux of form—during the chaos of the Cultural Revolution—Mu Xin discerned the lineaments of art, history, and civilization.”
— Mark Stevens, New York Magazine
This exhibition presents the largely unknown work of Chinese artist, poet, thinker, and writer Mu Xin (1927–2011), revealing his distinctive personal and artistic responses to the tumultuous period of modern China. This exhibition features a suite of 33 landscape paintings (1977–78) created through a unique synthesis of Western and traditional Chinese paintings styles, and 66 pages of Mu Xin’s obsessively scrawled Prison Notes (1970–73), written in secret while he was in prison during the Cultural Revolution.
The Art of Mu Xin: Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes was jointly organized and circulated by the Yale University Art Gallery and the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago. It traveled from Yale to the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, the Honolulu Academy of Art, and the Asia Society in New York. At the completion of the exhibition, the suite of landscape paintings were donated to Yale University Art Gallery by the Rosenkranz Foundation.
The exhibition and catalogue inspired the recent documentary Dreaming Against the World (2014) from Oscar-nominated filmmakers Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello.
Excerpted from Yale University Press
Mu Xin (b. 1927) is one of the leading expatriate artist-intellectuals of our time. Now living in New York City, he is known for his complex writings and paintings. Clearly a formidable figure in the cultural and intellectual history of Chinese modernism, Mu Xin is admired for his unique synthesis of Chinese and Western aesthetic sensibilities. This beautifully illustrated catalogue focuses on a group of thirty-three landscape paintings that Mu Xin painted in 1978–79, in the immediate aftermath of the Great Cultural Revolution. Many of these works have never been exhibited or published in the West. In addition, the book features Mu Xin’s Prison Notes, some sixty-six calligraphic sheets that were written when the artist was in solitary confinement in China in 1972.
The book features an introduction by Alexandra Munroe, director of the Japan Society Gallery, New York and essays by Richard Barnhart, John M. Schiff Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, Yale University; Jonathan Hay, associate professor of art history, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Wu Hung, Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, University of Chicago and Toming Jun Liu, associate professor, English Department, California State University, Los Angeles.