Chinese contemporary art has emerged as one of the most fascinating and compelling areas of the art market and the contemporary art world at large. Melissa Chiu, Director of the Asia Society in New York, addresses the scope of the Chinese art scene in a simple yet informative publication. Points include: Contemporary art in China began decades ago; Museums and galleries have promoted Chinese contemporary art since the 1990s; Contemporary art museums in China are on the rise; The world is collecting Chinese contemporary art. With color and illustrations and biographies.
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Dr. Melissa Chiu is Director of the Asia Society Museum in New York, where she has worked since 2001. Previously, she was Founding Director of the Asia-Australia Arts Centre in Sydney, Australia (1996-2001). As a leading authority on Asian contemporary art, she has guided a number of major initiatives at the Asia Society Museum, including the launch of a contemporary art collection to complement the museum s outstanding Rockefeller Collection of traditional Asian art. Chiu is a visiting professor at the CUNY Graduate School, and has lectured at numerous American universities, including Harvard and Columbia. She was a Getty Research Fellow (2003-2004) and is a member of the academic advisory board, Asia Art Archives, Hong Kong; advisory board, Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Vancouver; an advisor to Art 21, a television series on contemporary art broadcast on PBS; board member, Vietnam Foundation for the Arts; and a founding member of the Asian Contemporary Art Consortium in New York. Dr. Chiu has curated nearly thirty exhibitions of international art. She has served as an editor for Asian contemporary art for The Grove Dictionary of Art (Oxford University Press, London and New York), and is the author and editor of several books, monographs, and anthologies, among them a book on the Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Huan. Her most recent work, Breakout: Chinese Art Outside China (Charta, 2007), focuses on the international Chinese art diaspora.Review:
Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Things You Should Know; by Melissa Chiu Reviewed by: Alice Hunter Reflecting the economic situation, perhaps, and bucking the trend for the outsized coffee table book, 7 things, is a recession-sized gem of a text, which goes some way towards proving the maxim, the best things come in small packages. Each chapter offers a distinct insight into different aspects of Chinese contemporary art and includes Cynical Realism and Political Pop, perhaps the best-known styles of Chinese art in the west. Government censorship has been an influence on Chinese artists and sometimes still is, lists Chapter four, which details a post-Tiananmen paranoia with crackdowns on media and cultural institutions, including a total ban on nudity, sex, violence and politics. In light of such repressive conditions, artists often staged underground exhibitions, which sometimes remained open for only a few hours. The book s author, Melissa Chiu explains that things have since changed, however, even as recently as 2007, artwork for the Shanghai art fair was pre-approved by the Chinese authorities. As Chiu states, such a directive would be intolerable elsewhere, and is unimaginable in the Western world. However, despite such a turbulent past, the Chinese art of today is more forward looking to present-day realities rather than reflecting solely on history and its subsequent lessons. The differences between the Western and Asian art markets are striking and one example is the historic lack of a local gallery system in place in China, which has resulted in artists, by necessity, becoming savvy at marketing their work. More recently, with the growth of the auction market, artists have actively put their own work up for sale. As 7 things quite rightly states, this is rarely done in the Western art world, and one must only think back to the commotion caused by the Damien Hirst sale last year, to appreciate the disparity between the two art markets. It seems that the status quo of the art world in the West, most often meets its opposite in that of the East. At only 110 pages, you would be forgiven for thinking that 7 things is hardly equipped to cover the details of such a diverse art movement. However, the writing style is intelligent and there is much insight to be gained from this little book. And as 7 things points out, there are few reference books for the reader who wants a quick but precise history of the field. This book, in short, aims to fill that gap. --Art Journal online, UK
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