21 April 2010 by sinopop

Reading Gao Minglu: 1997-2008

The following is a complete list of Gao Minglu’s publications in English and Chinese, with synopsis (when available) and table of contents in both English and Chinese, to reveal Chinese language information, click 中文 to your right.

1991    主编《中国当代美术史》editor of “The History of Contemporary Chinese Art”  [Chinese only]

Not Available

851997《中国当代美术史(1985—1986)》“The History of Contemporary Chinese Art (1985-1986)” [Chinese only]

“The History of Contemporary Chinese Art” is the first period history of contemporary art in China since the People’s Republic of China. It uses a historical and philosophical framework to summarize, sort out, and analyze Chinese art trends, movements, styles and works from the close of the “Cultural Revolution” through the entire decade in the 1980s. (translation mine)

1. A short retrospective––concepts of art in a new era
2. Clues on a movement
3. Tides of rationality
4. The current of life
5. The ’85 New Wave beyond return
6. The choice of traditional or modern
7. Style and plurality
8. Modern art
(translation mine)

As one of the curators of the 1989 “China Avant-garde Exhibition,” Gao Minglu has a fervent interest in the onset and development of modern [sic] art in China during the 1980s. Gao was a visiting scholar in the United States throughout the 1990s. Looking back on his collected writings from ’85 to ’96, some of his established opinions on today’s avant-garde art still hold significance that cannot be ignored. The “Rational Painting” that he proposed already came to an end in the 1990s, and in his “Discussing Mao Zedong’s Model for Public Art” he accurately points out the intrinsic origins of the “political pop” style en vogue during the 1990s. (translation mine)

One: New, Old traditions: self-improvement and the collective Utopia
The history and future of Chinese painting (part one)
The background unfolds to Chinese modern art and its development
Discussing Mao Zedong’s Model for Public Art

Two: Post Cultural Revolution: The humanism of Aestheticism and Scars
Painting schools in recent oil painting development
The disillusionment of utopia
The end of a creative era
From Aestheticism to New Academicism
“Style” and “ultra-style”

Three: the Chinese avant-garde as a movement, not a school
Anti-utopian Utopia
Collective and Individual consciousness in contemporary painting
Comparison on three levels
The ’85 Movement
A discussion with Gao Minglu
The status and significance of New Wave art within the structure of Contemporary art in China
On Rational Painting
Avant-garde and humanities––Anti-Utopian Utopia in the ’85 Movement
From art criticism to critical art
The conflicts and challenges of an foreign culture battlefield
Moving towards postmodernism––a letter to Ren Jian
The Chinese cultural battlefield on native soil
Kitsch, Power, Complicity

Four: Avant-garde art and modern consciousness
New Yangwu and New “National Essence” (guocui)
Modern Consciousness and the ’85 Movement
Consciousness of the “cultural vanguard” and the ’85 Movement
Culture and Fine Art, on the margins of fine art and the cultural arts
The spatial function and forms of sculpture
When we are in dialogue, we need to broaden our hearts
All history is contemporary history: contemporary art history as general history

“Chinese Avant-Garde Art” published list of articles and titles
(translation mine)

INSHID1998 “Inside Out: New Chinese Art”  [English only]

Inside Out is the catalog for a groundbreaking exhibition organized by the Asia Society in New York, with venues also in San Francisco, Seattle, and Monterrey, Mexico. It discusses the first major presentation in the West of contemporary Chinese art and is the most important critique of the field to date. As they pursue their personal visions, Chinese artists tread between two extremes: embracing or rejecting their classical tradition. It is not easy for a Chinese artist to break away from such a rich treasury. For example, many works in the show deal with the written word–that most valued of China’s art forms, with its dual connotations of calligraphic beauty and obsessive ritualistic copying. Song Dong writes on a flat stone with water that quickly evaporates; Xu Bing invents witty, new, but meaningless characters. Understanding a work may require acquaintance with the classics: a suspended boat impaled with arrows harks back to a third-century general who sent straw-filled boats down-river to attract hostile fire, retrieved the boats, and collected his enemies’ arrows to use against them. There is an implicit anti-West message here. Other works, including installation, video, and performance art, have universal connotations that owe nothing to Chinese conventions. Contemporary Chinese art has been around for less than 20 years, but the freshness and variety of the work described in this book indicate that an original new force has joined the global art community. (John Stevenson via amazon.com)

Towards a Transnational Modernity: An overview of Inside Out (Gao Minglu)
Across Trans-Chinese Landscapes: Reflections on Contemporary Chinese Cultures (Leo Ou-Fan Lee)
The Post-Ideological Avant-Garde (Norman Bryson)
Ruins, Fragmentation and the Chinese Modern/Postmodern (Wu Hung)
Beyond The Middle Kingdom: An Insider’s View (Chang Tsong-Zung)
From Elite to Small Man: The Many Faces of a Transitional Avant-Garde in Mainland China (Gao Minglu)
Striving for a Cultural Identity in the Maze of Power Struggles: A Brief Introduction to the development of contemporary art in Taiwan (Victoria Y. Lu)
Found in Transit: Hong Kong Art in a Time of Change (David Clarke)
Strategies of Survival in the Third Space: A Conversation on the Situation of Chinese Artists overseas in the 1990s (Hou Hanru and Gao Minglu)

2001《世纪乌托邦:大陸前衛藝術》(台湾) “Century Utopia: Avant-garde Art on the Mainland” (Taiwan) [Chinese only]

Not Available

maxi2003《中国及多主义》”Chinese Maximalism” [Chinese only]

To what extent has Chinese “abstract art” developed? How do Chinese artists understand “abstract art”? “Chinese Maximalism” takes “maximalism” as a basic foundational methodology of “abstract art,” and uses it to develop a survey analysis of Chinese “abstraction” in art. Those who want to understand “abstract art” in China would do well to read this book––“Chinese Maximalism.”

“Chinese Maximalism” analyzes the characteristics of these “Chinese” “maximalists” through the different angles of contemporary background, Chinese traditional thought and its differences from Western abstract art. The author takes off from specific theories and works, and from the angles of the contextual relationship between the works themselves and their creative contexts, analyze this unique artistic phenomenon and its “significance.” The author points out, Chinese “Maximalist” art is not a personal expression, and neither is it an “abstract” representation of the exterior world, but is an inseparable part of these artists’ artistic philosophy and life philosophy. It is an exploration of the crystallization of an an artistic method that contributes to the fusion of the traditional and contemporary. Until today, “Chinese Maximalism” and extreme repetition, process, quantity and other linguistic forms filled with dismissive criticisms of a semantic fashion. At the same time, art inspired us to think about the establishment of a new contemporary art and the importance of and sense of urgency in artists’ personal awareness. (translation mine)

Chinese Maximalism: An Alternative “Metaphysical Art”
An Introduction: The Definition of Maximalism and its Artistic Context
Critiques on the Methodology of Chinese Maximalism
Conclusion: Maximalism is a Methodology to be Shared

WALL2005《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》“The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Art” [双语][English + Chinese]

Gao Minglu has curated several major exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art, including China/Avant-Garde in Beijing and Inside Out: New Chinese Art, at the Asia Society in New York, but The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art is the largest such exhibition ever held beyond the borders of China itself. Minglu, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and the Millennium Art Museum in Beijing have organized a landmark first collaboration on contemporary Chinese art between American museums and a major Chinese art institution. The results are good: The Wall addresses the work of more than 50 Chinese artists in media from the classic–painting, sculpture and works on paper–to the kinetic and ephemeral–video, installation, performance and film.

This is the catalogue of a traveling exhibition showcasing works by both established and young, under-exhibited artists from China (including Hong Kong). The texts explore from multiple perspectives the development of Chinese experimental art in the period 1985-2005. A chronology of Chinese conceptual art (1976-2004), a Bibliography on 20th century Chinese Art, and artist biographies are provided. (Promotional text)

por2005《中国当代最具影响的100位艺术家肖像》 “100 Most Influential Chinese Contemporary Artists” [Chinese Only]

Gao Minglu has profiled the “100 Most Influential Chinese Contemporary Artists” with full-page portraits of themselves contrasted with one significantly smaller image of their works. Artist profiles include a one or two sentence editorial description of their work, and a selected artist’s biography. (my synopsis)

wall2006《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》 “The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Art” [Chinese Only]

This book is a complete and accurate, methodological account of contemporary art history. The author attempts to blend the study of modernity and art historical writings together organically, and propose a characteristic of unique “Integrity” of Chinese modernity and use the differences in Chinese modernity as a kind of methodology, analyzing how Chinese modernity as a space continues to build awareness of contemporary Chinese art history and margins. The book touches upon various important issues in the research of Chinese contemporary art, for example, how does the Chinese artistic vanguard survive in the space of a complex dualistic system? How does realism adjust its philosophy of representation in a rapidly changing society? How does contemporary art “virtually” deal with the modern urban spectacle and dislocation? How to recognize the phenomenon of culturally “marginalized” artists and “female artists” located within the impacts of globalized culture, etc. (translation mine)

Chapter 1
: An Alternative Logic for Chinese Modernity: The Histories and Spaces of Chinese Contemporary Art
1. Outline of the book
2. Chinese Contemporary Art and its Avant-Garde-ness
3. The Methodology of the Study of Contemporary Chinese Art

Chapter 2:
Inside and Outside Public Walls: The Living Space of the Chinese Avant-Garde
1. The Late 1970s and 1980s: Avant-Garde Consciousness Conquers Political Space
2. The 1990s: Artist Villages and Apartment Art
3. The Museum Age: The Disappearance of “Walls”?

Chapter 3: 
From Rendao to Renwen to Rentai: Real and Unreal, the Transformation of Social Realism in Contemporary Chinese Art
1. Rendao Realistic Painting in the Post Cultural Revolution Period (1978-1985) The Truth of Human Life Existence
2. Transcending Personal Experience: Renwen Surrealism in the ’85 Movement
3. Consuming the Real: Rentai Situational Realism in the 1990s

Chapter 4:
 Anti-Art and Anti-conceptualism: Chinese Conceptual Art in the 1980s and 1990s
1. An Iconoclastic Movement with a Traditional Face: Chinese Conceptual Art in the ’85 Movement
2.  Chinese Conceptual Art in the 1990s

Chapter 5: 
Body and Soul:  Ritualizing the Body in Contemporary Chinese Art
1.Public Body in Public Space: performance art in the 1980s
2.Death in Art: Wounded Body and Suicide
3.Body as an individual’s Property
4. The “ritualistic” feature of Chinese performance art

Chapter 6: 
Reconstructing Historical Memory: The Great Wall in Twentieth-Century Chinese Art
1.The Birth of a Symbol
2. Mourning the Memory: Self-Reflection on the National Soul
3. Restoring the Memory: Reshaping Modern Chinese Identity in the Global Age

Chapter 7:
 The Wall as an Evolving Space: Reality and the Spectacle of Urban Life
1. The Urban Spectacle
2. The City and Society
3. City and Body
4. City and Memory

Chapter 8 
The Boundaries of Artistic (Aesthetic) and Cultural Identity: “Neo-Literati” and Chinese Women Art
1. “New Traditional” Art
2. Chinese Women’s Art
3. The Anti-Modernist Nature of Chinese Contemporary Abstract Art

Chronology of Chinese Contemporary Art in Mainland China 1977-2004

mod2006 《另类方法另类现代——艺术大视野丛书》“Art Horizon Series: Special Method in Kind, Special Modernism in Kind” (sic)  [Chinese only]

This book is an in-depth study of contemporary Chinese art, touching upon modern ink painting, architecture, performance art, etc, The book is separated into five chapters: Modern consciousness and the establishment of a Chinese contemporary art methodology; The significance of the utopia of modern materials in contemporary Chinese architectural theory; the crisis in contemporary ink painting; maximalism, and artist case study with Xu Bing. Suitable for art professionals and casual readers. (translation mine)

One: Modern Consciousness and the establishment of Chinese contemporary art methodology
Two: The significance of the utopia of modern materials in contemporary Chinese architectural theory
Three: The crisis in contemporary ink painting is a lack of theory
Four: Maximalism: The Illusion of a modern doctrine
Five: Artist Case study: Xu Bing’s art and methodology
(translation mine)

wu2007 《“无名”:一个悲剧前卫的历史》 “The No Name: A History of a Self-exiled Avantgarde” [Chinese + English]

In Chinese contemporary art history, the “wuming” (“no name”) painter’s association was the first antagonistic artistic group challenging the mainstream, even earlier than the Stars. During the “Cultural Revolution” they moved opposite to artistic currents, and promoted “art for art’s sake.” These artists painted quietly for years, rarely participating in public art activities. In another respect, their concept of “pure art” did not coincide with the social art trends of the previous twenty years. Even now, many people are still quite unfamiliar with the wuming painters, the history of their activities, their members, and their artworks and artistic concepts have remained even more unknown.

This book details the history, artistic concepts, and creative practices of the Wuming Painters Association for an objective and thorough introduction and study, it seels to restore the early years of Chinese contemporary art history, opening up an important side of the 1970s that has been concealed by the “Cultural Revolution” and neglected by contemporary art history. This publication will change discussions on the origins of contemporary art in China.
(translation mine)

Intro: Gao Minglu: Wuming Painters Association––a tragic avant-garde rejecting kitsch

Wuming Painters early activities–– dialogue with Gao Minglu Zhao Wenliang and Yang Yushu
Wuming Painters and the Stars Exhibition–– dialogue with Gao Minglu and Zhao Wenliang
Thirty Years after “Wuming”––a summary of the members forum
Zhao Wenliang: Looking back on the 1979 Wuming Exhibition
Tao Yongbai: On the 1979 Wuming Exhibition, memories
Ma Kelu: The Wuming era (selections)
Zheng Ziyan: My recollections on the Wuming Painters Association
Wuming Painters Association timetable

Eyewitness Critiques:
Liu Xun
Gao Ertai
Liu Haisu
Ma Jian
Zhu Jinshi

Artist Bios
(translation mine)

mei2007 主编:《美学叙事与抽象艺术》“Aesthetic Narrative and Abstract Art” [Chinese only]

This book is a collection of papers presented at the December 2006 conference at the Today Art Museum entitled “Aesthetic Narratives in Contemporary Art,” a discussion primarily related to the issue of “abstraction” in Chinese art. The book is divided into three portions, an introduction, the history and circumstances facing contemporary art in China, and artist case studies. Contributors include Gao Minglu, Yi Ying, Huang Bingyi, Huang Du, Wu Hung, etc. In addition, this catalogue includes a discussion between Wu Hung, Huang Bingyi and Wang Xiaojian that was held on the occasion of Tan Ping and Zhu Jinshi’s exhibition. This collection is intended for use as a text book at academies, and is also relevant as a professional reference. (Translation mine)


Introduction: Aesthetic Narrative and Abstract Art
Gao Minglu, Narrative of Abstract Art
Gao Minglu, Dislocation – Rethinking the Narrative of Chinese Contemporary Art
Gao Minglu, Return to Aesthetics – A Dialogue with Meng Luding on Abstract Art
History and Circumstance of China’s Abstract Art
Yi Ying, Development of Abstract Art in Contemporary China
Yang Xiaoyan, Elitism and Fear of Images
Fan Di-an, Abstract Art and Contemporareity of Culture
Huang Bingyi, Between Aesthetics and the Poetic
Wang Nanming, Case Study of the “Post-Abstraction” – Analysis on Works of Class 2004, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts
Wang Xiaojian, Geometrical Abstraction and Aesthetics of Logic
Huang Du, Circumstance of China’s Abstract Art
Discussion in the Conference
Case Studies: Tan Ping and Zhu Jinshi
Wu Hung, A Great Image Has No Form (or, the Universe Has No Shape)
Huang Bingyi, Ruins of Grativity – the Logic of Abstract Painting of Tan Ping and Zhu Jinshi
Wang Xiaojian, After Conceptual Art – on Abstract Painting of Tan Ping and Zhu Jinshi

see also: “READING GAO MINGLU” PART TWO, 2008-2010


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