Artworks by Xu Bing

Book from the Ground: Notebooks by Xu Bing

37 x 25 cm
Mixed Media Installation

Square Word Calligraphy: An Ascent by Xu Bing

173 x 408 cm
Ink on Paper  (Set of 6)

Men, Nursery, Women Sign by Xu Bing

150 x 300 cm
Screenprint (set of 3)

Xu Bing


Born in 1955, Chongqing, China, based in Beijing, China

Pioneering Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing creates powerful, poignant mixed-media installations, in which he subverts systems of language, upending expectations and perception. He explains that his works “are all linked by a common thread, which is to construct some kind of obstacle to people’s habitual ways of thinking—what I call the ‘cognitive structures’ of the mind.” Trained as a printmaker, Xu is informed by the Cultural Revolution, Chan Buddhism, and his keen interest in the relationship between meaning and words, writing, and reading. He has famously re-invented Chinese characters and the English alphabet, rendering Chinese nonsensical and English into legible Chinese characters, effectively challenging comprehension of both. In Book from the Sky (1987-91), Xu filled a gallery with scrolls and books hand-printed with 4,000 “false” Chinese characters—a stunning commentary on the subjectivity of language and its meaning.

Xu Bing, Background Story: A New Approach to Landscape Painting, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI, USA

Xu Bing: Writing between Heaven and Earth, Frost Art Museum, Florida, U.S.A.

Xu Bing: Things are Not What They First Appear, SCAD Museum of Art, Georgia, U.S.A.

Phoenix 2015, the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
Xu Bing’s Language, LACMA, Los Angeles, U.S.A

Future Returns: Contemporary Art from China, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan, USA

Metamorphosis: The Art of Xu Bing, Hong Kong Asia Society, Hong Kong

Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York, USA

Xu Bing Retrospective, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

Xu Bing: Research Exhibition on Background Story, Inside-Out Art Musuem, Beijing

Forest Project of Xu Bing and Children, National Museum of History, Taipei

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

Traveling to the Wonderland, John Madejski Garden, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

Xu Bing: Landscape Landscript, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK

Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing’s Phoenix Project, Smithsonian Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington DC

Living Word, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

The Tao Hua Yuan Ideal, John Madejski Garden, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK


Xu Bing Phoenix, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts

Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

Forest Project & Book from the Ground, San Paulo, Brazil

Book from the Ground, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China

Book from the Ground, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

Xu Bing: Square Word Calligraphy, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah NY

The Art of Rewriting China, Carlsten Art Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point WI

Tobacco Project 3, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield CT

Square Word Calligraphy Classroom, MIRIAM and IRA D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York NY

Where does the dust itself collect? Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York NY

Tobacco project 3, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond VA

living word 3, The Morgan liberary & Museum, New York NY

Background Story 7, British Museum, London

An Installation by Xu Bing: Background Story 7, British Museum, London, UK

Phoenix Project, Baosteel Stage, Expo 2010 Shanghai China, Shanghai, China

Xu Bing Aerial Phoenix Project, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China, Document exhibition, March 28 – April 16

Xu Bing Forest Project Exhibition, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

Xu Bing: The Path of Repetition and the Imprint, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

Reading Space: The Art of Xu Bing, Clifford Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York

Xu Bing, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Vermont

Xu Bing, Albion Gallery, London, UK

Xu Bing Selected Work, 1987-2007 – Grossman Artist Solo Exhibition, Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery, Lafayette College, Pennsylvania

Picture Equality: Xu Bing’s New Ways of Seeing, Sawhill Gallery, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia

“Book from the Sky” to “Book from the Ground” – The Book Works of Xu Bing, Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas

Xu Bing, Suzhou Museum, Suzhou, China

Installation of Any Opinions, lobby of Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley,

Xu Bing: The Glassy Surface of a Lake, Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Xu Bing Tobacco Project: Shanghai, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China

Xu Bing, Yokohama Portside Gallery, Yokohama, Japan

Xu Bing in Berlin, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin, Germany

Xu Bing: El Pozo de la Verdad/The Well of Truth, Sala La Gallera, Valencia

Xu Bing: Three Installations, Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

Xu Bing, Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester

Xu Bing, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

Xu Bing, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

Book from the Sky installation, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey

Myers School of Art: Faculty Exhibition: Xu Bing: Installation, Emily Davis Gallery, University of Akron,
Akron, Ohio

Classroom Calligraphy, Daryl Reich Rubenstein Gallery, Sidwell Friends School, Washington D.C.

Xu Bing, Commons Gallery, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

Xu Bing: Living Word 2, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Xu Bing, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

Xu Bing: Reading Landscape, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina

Xu Bing: One-Man Show, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

Xu Bing: Prints and Books, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), Portland, Oregon

Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.