Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century

February 18, 1999 - April 18, 1999

This groundbreaking exhibition documented major trends in current Chinese experimental art (shiyan meishu), which is characterized by a strong desire to explore new territories in artistic expression.

The twenty-one featured artists come from different parts of mainland China or are living abroad in Europe and the United States, and their styles and modes of expression vary. These artists work primarily for a domestic audience, and they respond directly to China’s complex, rapidly changing culture. Many of these artists derive materials, technique, and concepts from both western and traditional Chinese aesthetics. Their pathbreaking experiments thus address the relationship between regionality and globalization in contemporary art, and demonstrate convincingly how originality can be constituted by combining an Asian art tradition with artistic internationalism.

Transience explored these issues through paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and installations presented in three thematically linked sections: “Demystification,” “Ruins,” and “Transience.”

Catalouge available


Following its presentation in Chicago, Transience traveled to the University of Oregon Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon and the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.