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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Yi tiao da he (A Great River), from Five Series of Repetition
Date: 1986
Medium: Woodcut
Edition 12/50
Dimensions: 26 7/8 x 37 inches (68.3 x 94 cm)
Credit Line: Acquired through the George and Mary Rockwell Fund
Object Number: 2010.045
Label Text: Xu Bing’s printmaking talents were first recognized from his illustrations for the newsletter of the Huapen Commune, where he was being “reformed through labor” during the Cultural Revolution. In 1977 he began formal study of printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and served as an instructor there while completing his MFA. After living abroad and gaining recognition as a major international artist, he returned to Beijing to serve as vice president of CAFA.

This print comes from one of his early projects in which he explored the process of printmaking. For Five Series of Repetition, he first printed an uncarved woodblock, which produced a sheet covered entirely with ink, then made a sequence of prints of the emerging pictorial image as the block was carved. This impression comes from near the completion of the riverine picture. The artist then continued to carve and print the block until the pictorial image was completely obliterated and the final print was devoid of ink. The artist described the process and subject matter of this series as a “hint at the cycle of life.” ("Xu Bing: The Character of Characters," curated by Ellen Avril and presented at the Johnson Museum August 11-December 23, 2018)


NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.