Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave
New York, NY, NY 10128
Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is a major exhibition of contemporary art from China spanning 1989 to 2008, arguably the most transformative period of modern Chinese and recent world history. The largest show of this subject ever mounted in North America, it offers an interpretative survey of Chinese experimental art framed by the geopolitical dynamics attending the end of the Cold War, the spread of globalization, and the rise of China. The arc of this international history, beginning with the crushed utopianism of the nationwide democracy movement and culminating in the conflicted euphoria surrounding the Beijing Olympics, provides the framework for the Guggenheim’s show. Theater of the World examines how Chinese artists have been both agents and skeptics of China’s arrival as a global presence, and seeks to reposition a Sinocentric art history in a way that sees China as integral to the emergence of the global contemporary.
We are following the path that will lead to an international common ground where the arts of the East and the West will influence each other. And this is the natural course of the history of art.
—Yoshihara Jirō, “A Statement by Jirō Yoshihara: Leader of the Gutai,” 1958
In politics, totalitarianism fails; in culture, that which is unfree and akin to totalitarianism must be purged…. If you believe that your art has a spiritual meaning and it helps you develop yourself, such art will truly be on the cutting edge of global culture.
—Shiraga Kazuo, “The Establishment of the Individual,” 1956