Originally published in The Economist | NEW YORK
A new exhibition focuses on art that was made in or inspired by China between 1989 and 2008
HANGING from the ceiling of the magnificent rotunda that Frank Lloyd Wright created for the Guggenheim Museum in 1959 is an undulating black dragon. Twenty-six metres (85 feet) long, it is made almost entirely of the inner tubes of bicycles. Its head is a sculptural confection of broken cycles, its rear a writhing excrescence of black rubber loops. The visual etymology is obviously and satisfyingly Chinese. Then you notice hundreds of tiny black cars crawling all over its underbelly, like head lice on a schoolchild—symbolic of the moment when the country, in the headlong pursuit of economic growth, swerved from pedal power to petroleum.
Under pressure from online petitions and on-site protests, the Guggenheim Museum last month withdrew or modified three works of art that involved animals from its survey of Chinese contemporary art, called “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World.” The titular work in the show, a sculptural vitrine, was originally filled with live insects and reptiles, which the museum removed.
originally published on supchina.com OCTOBER 27, 20170
by AMI LI
“Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” on right now at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, is an art show of massive proportions. Taking up the entire rotunda and two additional galleries of the landmark Frank Gehry building, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when there’s a 65-foot dragon soaring above your head.
But between the crowds and the mythical beasts, here are 10 pieces worth a second (or seventh) glance as you make your way through two decades’ worth of Chinese contemporary art.
If, for the past couple of weeks, you’ve been following either the art world’s murmurings or the Most Popular Petition category on change.org, you would be well aware of the Guggenheim’s recent Animal Rights-related quagmire, a tiff with PETA advocates which resulted, on Sept. 25, in the removal of three pieces from its fall blockbuster exhibition.
Whether or not you’ve been keeping close tabs on both, you likely missed the fact that the show in question, Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World, opened to the public this past Friday, Oct. 6.
“Precipitous Parturition,” by Chen Zhen, hangs high over the Guggenheim Museum’s rotunda. The dragon’s body is woven from cast-off bicycle wheel inner tubes; toy cars are packed within its belly. Credit Vincent Tullo for The New York Times