Born in Chongqing, China in 1955, Xu Bing moved to Beijing with his parents a year later. After graduating from high school in 1974, as part of the Cultural Revolution, Xu Bing was relocated for two years to Huapen Commune in the mountainous region Northwest of Beijing. In 1976, Xu began to exhibit and publish his work and in 1977 he entered the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA). In 1981, he completed his bachelor’s degree and stayed on as an instructor at CAFA, earning his MFA in 1987, the same year that he began work on “Book from the Sky” which was exhibited for the first time at CAFA in 1988. In 1990, on the invitation of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Xu moved to the United States where he lived and worked until 2008 when he was invited by CAFA to serve as Vice President and Professor. Xu Bing now divides his time between Beijing and New York.
Solo exhibitions of Xu Bing’s work have been held at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Elvehjem Museum of Art, University Wisconsin-Madison; the Joan Miro Foundation, Spain; the National Gallery of Prague amongst other major institutions. In 2001, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, mounted a large scale solo show entitled “Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing” and in 2004 the Berlin National East Asian Art Museum held the major retrospective “Xu Bing in Berlin.”
Xu Bing has shown in many group exhibitions at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The British Museum; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Center de Arte Reina Sofia and CAAM, Spain; the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts; P.S. 1, New York; The National Gallery of Canada; the Art Gallery of New South Wales; the Mori Art Museum; ICC; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; the Queensland Art Gallery and the Kiasma Museum, Finland. Additionally, Xu Bing has shown at the 45th and 51st Venice Biennales; the Biennale of Sydney; the Johannesburg Biennale; the Shanghai Biennale; the Gwangju Biennale; the Taipei Biennale; the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale; the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art and the Guangzhou Triennial amongst other international exhibitions.
Over the years, Xu Bing’s work has appeared in high-school and college text-books around the world including Abram’s “Art Past – Art Present,” Gardner’s “Art Through the Ages” and Greg Clunas’s “Chinese Art” a volume in the “Oxford History of Art” series. In 2006, the Princeton University Press published “Persistence/Transformation: Text as Image in the Art of Xu Bing” a multidisciplinary study of Xu Bing’s landmark work “Book from the Sky.”
In 1999, Xu Bing was named as a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his “…originality, creativity, self-direction, and capacity to contribute importantly to society, particularly in printmaking and calligraphy.” In 2003 Xu Bing was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for his work in Asian Art and Culture. In 2004, Xu Bing won the first Wales International Visual Art Prize, Artes Mundi and in 2005, he was presented with a Youth Friends Award from The New York City Department of Education and the School Art League. Xu was listed in the 2004-2005 “Art in America” Annual Guide and in 2006, the Southern Graphics Council, the largest printmakers’ organization in the United States, awarded Xu Bing their lifetime achievement award in recognition of the fact that his, “use of text, language and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways.” In 2007, Xu Bing’s installation “Any Opinons?” at Wellesley College was awarded “Best Installation or Single Work of Art in a Museum, New England” by the United States section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA USA) and in April 2008, he served on the judging panel of Artes Mundi 3. During the spring semester at Columbia University, New York, Professor Robert Harrist, Chair of Chinese Art, began teaching a graduate seminar entitled “The Art of Xu Bing.”
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