Xu Bing Timeline: Selected Events and Exhibitions
Xu Bing’s ancestry can be traced back to Wenling, a coastal city in Zhejiang Province, China.
Born on the 8th of February in Chongqing.
Moved to Beijing with his parents, Xu Huamin and Yang Shiying, both worked at Peking University.
Entered Peking University Elementary School. Took part in school-organized art activities and received training from art teacher Sun Juli.
The Cultural Revolution startsed and all schools were closed in China. Xu Bing's father was labeled a “capitalist-roader,” publically shamed, and imprisoned in the cowshed on campus. His mother was sent to a “re-education camp.” The family's property was confiscated. During this turbulent period, Zhao Baoxu, a scholar of International Relations, gave Xu Bing woodblock printing tools and art books, including Yan'an Mass Art Factory's New Year Painting Catalogues, and Northern Woodcuts. Zhang Zhilian, a scholar of French Studies, gave Xu Bing part of his collection of French and Russian art books. These acts of kindness had an enduring influence on Xu's later artistic development.
1968 – 72
Entered the Affiliated Middle School of Peking University. The school didn't have any art teacher, so Xu Bing became an unpaid instructor, teaching art and creating publicity posters for the school.
1972 – 73
Entered the Affiliated High School of Peking University. Continued to work as an art instructor there.
1974 – 77
Relocated to Huapen Commune in Shouliang Gou Village, Yanqing County, on the outskirts of Beijing, and lived there for the next three years. In his spare time, he made drawings of rural life, organized group art activities, and edited as well as printed a student publication, "Brilliant Mountain Flowers," or Lan Man Shan Hua. Because of his excellent performance as a farm hand and amateur artist, he was given a chance to take the entrance examination to the institution now known as China Central Academy of Fine Arts (then Central May Seventh Art University).
1977 – 81
Admitted to the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) printmaking department, where he studied from 1977 to 1981. Received instruction from Gu Yuan (1919-1996), Li Hua (1908-1994) and other printmaking masters. Created a series of small woodcut prints collectively titled "Shattered Jade" (1977-83). Created numerous sketches during trips to various locations in China, including the Northeastern Forests, the Bohai Gulf, the Yellow River Basin, the North China Plain, the Taihang Mountains, the Tibetan Plateau, and several Jiangnan towns. Awarded the first prize in a juried show hosted by CAFA.
Woodcut print Young Women Threshing Rice was included in an exhibition organized by the Louvre and the British Museum. It was later acquired by the British Museum and the National Art Museum of China, and was awarded Second Prize in the “2nd National Youth Art Exhibition.”
Received his bachelor's degree from China Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he stayed as an art instructor teaching drawing fundamentals, woodcutting and creative printmaking in the printmaking department. Worked on a 100,000-word treatise, "Teaching Notes for Basic Drawing" (serialized between 1985 and 1987 on the journal, Meishu Xiangdao).
Traveled to Dunhuang, Dazu, Xi'an, Gansu, Hebei, and other regions to study and copy ancient artwork. Received the Award for Excellence in the “8th National Print Exhibition" in Beijing.
Began graduate-level study at China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Spent three months in the Shanbei region, where he researched on folk art.
Won the Second Prize of the “Exhibition of Works by International Youths” for his mixed-media print, Still Life with Flowers and a Pencil.
Created the woodblock print, Five Series of Repetitions, and the mezzotint Stone Series, which together constituted his MFA thesis exhibition of the same year. Began preparatory work on Book from the Sky. Immersed himself in designing over two thousand “false” Chinese characters and carving movable type blocks of those characters. This work continued until the middle of 1988.
In October, “Xu Bing Printmaking Art Exhibition” was inaugurated at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, where the first finished section of Book from the Sky was shown. He traveled to Paris École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts as a visiting artist.
Received the Huo Yingdong Education Foundation Award from the China National Education Association. Continued to work on Book from the Sky and created a second group of over two thousand “false” Chinese characters.
In May, worked on Ghosts Pounding the Wall, a large-scale outdoor ink-on-paper rubbing of the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall, with the help of students and assistants. Accepted an invitation in July from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved to the United States.
《天书》制作完成，在日本东京画廊首次完整展出；《鬼打墙》运往美国进行后期制作。12月，在威斯康星大学艾维翰美术馆（现为查森美术馆）举办赴美首次个展，展出《五个复数系列》《天书》和《鬼打墙》三件大型装置。创作陶材装置作品《A. B. C. ...》。
Book from the Sky was completed and exhibited in its finished form for the first time at Tokyo Gallery, Japan. Ghosts Pounding the Wall was transported to the United States, where Xu Bing finished mounting the massive rubbing. In December, opened his first solo American exhibition in the Elvehjem Museum of Art (now the Chazen Museum of Art) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This show included three large-scale installations: Book from the Sky, Ghosts Pounding the Wall, and Five Series of Repetitions. Created ceramic installation A, B, C,….
Inaugurated a solo exhibition at the North Dakota Museum of Art. Began MFA study at the University of South Dakota, where he focused on modern printmaking, papermaking, and traditional western bookbinding.
Moved to East Village, New York. Finished Brailliterate, Post-Testament, and Wu Street. Works were shown at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia. Book from the Sky was selected for the 45th Venice Biennale.
Presented a small-scale experimental performance, A Case Study of Transference, at Han Mo Arts Center, Beijing, in January . Started to design “Square Word Calligraphy.” Held solo exhibitions at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York.
Began American Silkworm Series. Held solo exhibitions at the Huntington Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago, the Dille Center for the Arts at Moorhead State University in Minnesota, and the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
Wrote and printed the first edition of the textbook, An Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy, which was exhibited for the first time in a classroom installation, later called Square Word Calligraphy Classroom, during a residency at Artpace, in San Antonio, Texas. It was also shown at Kunstforeningen in Copenhagen, the Marstall Performance Center in Munich, and the University Art Museum at SUNY Albany in New York. Appointed to the Artist Advisory Board of the New Museum in New York.
Square Word Calligraphy Classroom was displayed in eight museums and galleries upon request. Participated in the second edition of the Johannesburg Biennale and the second edition of the Gwangju Biennale. Held solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Mallorca, Spain. Book from the Sky was included in the art history textbook Art Past, Art Present (Boston: Abrahams Inc, 1997). Finished The Net at the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University. Created site-specific print series Lost Letters at the Asian Fine Arts Factory, in Berlin.
获帕洛克—克拉斯纳基金会奖助金。在加拿大国家美术馆与纽约PS1 展出《天书》；纽约新美术馆展出《英文方块字书法教室》；纽约杰克・提尔顿画廊展出新作《熊猫动物园》。在全世界各地举办约25场展览，含在台北双年展上展出《英文方块字书法教室》。日本 ICC 协助制作《英文方块字计算机字库软件》和《您贵姓》媒体互动作品；在芬兰完成《链子》；在纽约完成《在美国养蚕系列三：开幕式》。
Received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant. Showed Book from the Sky at the National Gallery of Canada and MoMA PS1, New York, Square Word Calligraphy Classroom at the New Museum in New York, and Panda Zoo at Jack Tilton Gallery in New York. Square Word Calligraphy Classroom was shown at approximately twenty-five exhibitions across the world, including the Taipei Biennale. Collaborated with NTT Intercommunication Center (ICC), Tokyo, on Square Word Calligraphy: Computer Font Program and the interactive installation Your Surname Please. Completed The Leash in Finland and American Silkworm Series 3: the Opening in New York.
Received the MacArthur Fellowship, an American prize frequently referred to as the Genius Award, in recognition of his “originality, creativity, personal direction, and his ability to contribute to society and the art of calligraphy and printmaking.” Visited and stayed at the Himalaya Range in Nepal upon invitation and began the Landscript project. Works were shown at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Kunstmuseum in Bonn, the Queens Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Xu Bing’s daughter, Edie Siyi Xu, was born. Xu completed the Helsinki-Himalaya Exchange in Finland. Initiated the Tobacco Project in Durham, where Duke University is located. Solo exhibition “Xu Bing: The End of the Book” opened at the Albany Public Library in Albany, New York. Spoke with French philosopher Jacques Derrida during a lecture. Mounted a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Prague. Reading Landscape was included in the Biennale of Sydney. Book from the Sky was acquired by the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.
Solo exhibition “Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing” opened at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. This show included new works including Monkeys Grasp for the Moon, The Living Word, Reading Landscape: After Yuan Jiang, and Square Word Calligraphy: Computer Font Program; Monkeys Grasp for the Moon was acquired for permanent display at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Mounted solo exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), in Oregon, and Eslite Gallery, in Taipei. Book from the Sky was included in the eleventh edition of Gardner’s Art Through the Ages (Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt College Publishers, 2001), an authoritative American art history textbook. The name “Xu Bing” is added to the Encyclopedia Nipponica.
Participated in the 1st Guangzhou Triennial and the 4th Shanghai Biennale. Mainland Chinese art critic Li Xiaoshan listed Xu Bing as one of the ten most influential Chinese artists of the twentieth century.
Received the 14th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize, accompanied by a solo exhibition at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum. Completed artist residencies at Hong Kong Arts Center and the Pilchuck Glass School, in Washington state. Began researching and working on Book from the Ground. Was the subject of Princeton University’s symposium, “Persistence/Transformation: Text as Image in the Art of Xu Bing. ” Named Honorary Professor by his alma mater, China Central Academy of Fine Arts.
Became a fellow-in-residence at the American Academy in Berlin. Won the inaugural Artes Mundi Wales International Art Prize and exhibited new work, Where Does the Dust Itself Collect? A solo exhibition, “Xu Bing in Berlin,” opened at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst (now Museum für Asiatische Kunst) in Berlin, Germany, and included new work, Background Story. “Xu Bing: El Pozo de la Verdad/The Well of Truth,” organized by the City of Valencia, opened at Sala La Gallera in Valencia, Spain. Xu mounted the monumental solo exhibition, “Tobacco Project: Shanghai” in Shanghai. Opened his second solo exhibition at the Elvehjem Museum of Art (now Chazen Museum of Art), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, titled “Xu Bing: The Glassy Surface of a Lake." Listed as one of fifteen prominent artists in Art in America's “2004 People in Review.”
Received the 96th "Youth Friends Award" from the School Art League and the New York City Department of Education. Made his first visit to Kenya and began to work on Forest Project. Named artist director of the Life Magazine in China and published Abstract Essays, a series of experimental works that explores visual art and text between 2005 and 2007. His artwork, Holding the Brush, was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
New installation Two Sisters of Persephone was exhibited at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and Xu Bing was named "the Best Installation or Single Work of Art in a museum space in New England" between 2005 and 2006 by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). Created a site-specific work, Background Story 3, for the opening of Suzhou Museum, in China. Book from the Ground was exhibited at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany. Participated in the sixth edition of the Gwangju Biennale and the first edition of the Singapore Biennale.
Named a member of the Guggenheim Asian Art Council. Work was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York. The Spencer Museum of Art mounted Xu's solo exhibition “Book from the Sky to Book from the Ground: Xu Bing's Book Works.” The Southern Graphics Council presents Xu Bing with a Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award, explaining that his “use of text, language and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways.” Listed among forty other artists in the ARTnews survey “Famous in 2112: experts predict which artists the art world will be looking at 105 years from now.” Named vice president of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. Moved back to China.
Commissioned to create two 28-meter long phoenix sculptures. Invited by I.M. Pei to create the hanging installation, Purple Breeze from the East, for the new Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Forest Project was exhibited for the first time at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Book from the Ground was exhibited in both the United States and China. Held a solo exhibition at Sawhill Gallery, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Served as a juror for the 3rd Artes Mundi Prize.
Began to work on Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll. The Today Art Museum in Beijing organizes "Xu Bing: The Path of Repetition and the Imprint," a special retrospective exhibition of Xu Bing’s prints. The Forest Project came to Shenzhen, Guangdong, and was exhibited at He Xiangning Art Museum.
Phoenix was completed and exhibited in the plaza of the Today Art Museum, Beijing, and at Expo 2010 Shanghai China. Background Story 6 was featured at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. The Museum of Modern Art acquired a group of Xu Bing's woodcut prints from Series of Repetitions (1987-88). Named Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Columbia University.
Mounted solo exhibition “An Installation by Xu Bing: Background Story 7” at the British Museum. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presented “Xu Bing: Tobacco Project 3 – Richmond.” The Living Word 3 was shown at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Invited by the government of New York City to install Where Does the Dust Itself Collect? in memory of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. This marks the first presentation of Where Does the Dust Itself Collect? in the United States.
The Washington Post listed Tobacco Project as one of the “Top 10 Works of Art and Architecture in 2011.” Launched Forest Project in São Paulo, Brazil. After ten years of work, Book from the Ground: From Point to Point was published in Taipei in conjunction with a solo exhibition. The large solo exhibition “Xu Bing: Phoenix Project” opened at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
“Xu Bing: Landscape Landscript” opened at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, at the University of Oxford. Traveling to the Wonderland was exhibited at the John Madejski Garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. Received an honorary doctorate from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
辞去中央美术学院行政职务。接受第56届威尼斯双年展总策划Okwui Enwezor《凤凰》参展的邀请，开始“第二代凤凰”的制作。筹备多年的大型“徐冰回顾展”在台北市立美术馆开幕。“徐冰凤凰”在纽约圣约翰大教堂展出，《纽约时报》给与题为“Phoenixes Rise in China and Float in New York”的整版报道。徐冰《徐冰凤凰》被美国纽约圣约翰大教堂授予“城市之心”奖章。4月《汉字的性格》动画片在大都会博物馆展出。“木林森计划—徐冰与孩子们的木林森”在台北历史博物馆展出。
Resigned from his administrative position at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Started to produce the second version of Phoenix upon the invitation by the 56th Venice Biennale curator Okwui Enwezor. After years of planning, “Xu Bing, A Retrospective” opened at Taipei Fine Arts Museum. “Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral” went on view at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. The New York Times wrote a feature on this exhibition, with the title “Phoenixes Rise in China and Float in New York.” The Cathedral of St. John the Divine offered Xu Bing the “Spirit of the City” award. The animation The Character of Characters was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in April. “Xu Bing and the Children’s Forest Project: Taiwan” opened at the National Museum of History in Taipei.
Resumed work on his surveillance film project Dragonfly Eyes. Released the film trailer at the end of the year. Two large-scale phoenix sculptures were installed at the Central Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale, “All the Worlds’ Future,” and displayed at the Arsenale. Curated “The 2nd Diamond Leaves: Brilliant Artist Book from around the World” at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and “The 2nd CAFAM-Future: Exhibition themed Observer-Creator.” Appointed as the 2015 Heinz Goetze Visiting Professor for Chinese Art History for the Center for East Asian Studies at Heidelberg University, Germany. Also appointed as the Humanities Visiting Professor in Chinese Studies 2014-2015 by CRASSH, the University of Cambridge. Xu Bing’s first writing anthology, The Real Character of Mine was published by Beijing Zhongxin Publication House. Appointed by Cornell University as the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large. Awarded the AIE Medal of Arts by John Kerry, American Secretary of State, in Washington, D.C. in recognition for his distinguished contributions to cultural diplomacy.
Focused on the production of Dragonfly Eyes.
电影《蜻蜓之眼》制作完成，于八月在瑞士洛迦诺电影节全球首映，并获得国际影评人奖和天主教人道精神特别提名奖等多项奖项，入选多个国际电影节。“徐冰”同名个展于武汉合美术馆开幕。澳门艺术博物馆举办个展“徐冰的文字”个展。纽约古根海姆美术馆大型群展“1989后的艺术与中国：世界剧场”开幕，《误街》《何处惹尘埃》及《一个转换案例的研究》参展。美国维京出版社出版第一本由英文方块字书写的中美儿歌儿童读物《Look! What do you see?》（《看！你看见了什么？》），并获得多个优秀图书奖项。
Dragonfly Eyes was completed. Premiered in August at Locarno International Film Festival and received FIPRESCI Prize as well as a special mention for the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The work was also selected by multiple international film festivals. The solo exhibition “Xu Bing” opened at the United Art Museum, Wuhan. The Macau Museum of Art held the solo exhibition “Language & the Art of Xu Bing.” Wu Street, Where Does the Dust Itself Collect? and A Case Study of Transference were presented at the major group exhibition, “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York. Viking Press published the first children’s book written in “Square Word Calligraphy.” It was named Look! What do you see? and received several outstanding book awards.