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Title: Metal Mao, from the series Material Mao
Date: early 1990s
Medium: Metal and paper
Dimensions: 38 x 29 in. (96.5 x 73.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Andrew Byong-Soo Kim, MBA 1963, and Wan Kyun Rha Kim
Object Number: 2004.038.005
Label Text: One of the first contemporary Chinese artists to emigrate to New York (in 1982), Zhang Hongtu’s images of Mao, cut away from their background material, invoke the idea of “negative space.” His experiences as a young man during the height of China’s Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution have strongly influenced the ways in which Zhang has chosen to portray China’s former political and, in some ways, spiritual leader. While having the political freedom in the United States to create artwork that critiques Mao’s ubiquitous presence through media and propaganda imagery, Zhang has also discussed the discomfort he experienced when he began making these images: “When I first cut up a photo of Mao’s face to make a collage, I felt as if I were sinning.” In some ways a reaction to the Mao craze which took place in China during the early 1990s, Zhang’s work is also part of an attempt to break the psychological hold of Mao’s image over the artist.

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.