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Paperback | $33.95 Trade | £27.95 | 440 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 16 color illus., 38 b&w illus. | February 2011 | ISBN: 9780262516235
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Contemporary Art in Asia

A Critical Reader


In 2008, Asia stormed the citadel of the New York art world when two major museums presented retrospectives of Asian contemporary artists: Cai Guo-Qiang at the Guggenheim Museum and Takashi Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, a painting by Zeng Fanzhi sold for $9.5 million, setting a new world auction record for Chinese contemporary art. The Western art world is still coming to grips with the challenge: it is all about Asia now. This book is the first anthology of critical writings to map the shift in both the nature and the reception of Asian art over the past twenty years. Offering texts by leading figures in the field (mostly Asian), and including more than fifty illustrations in color and black and white, it covers developments in East Asia (including China, Korea, and Japan), South Asia (including India and Pakistan), and Southeast Asia (including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand). Together, the twenty-three texts posit an historical and pan-Asian response to the question, "What is Asian contemporary art?" Considering such topics as Asian modernism ("productive mistranslation" of the European original), Asian cubism, and the curating, collecting, and criticism of Asian contemporary art, this book promises to be a foundational reference for many years to come.

About the Editors

Melissa Chiu is Museum Director and Vice President of Global Art Programs at the Asia Society in New York.

Benjamin Genocchio is a former art critic for the New York Times and is currently editor-in-chief of Art + Auction and Modern Painters magazine.

Table of Contents

  • Contemporary 
Art in Asia

  • Contemporary 
Art in Asia

  • A Critical Reader
  • edited by Melissa Chiu 
and Benjamin Genocchio
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2011
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • The publisher would like to thank the China Art Foundation for the generous gift which made this publication possible.

  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.

  • This book was set in Chaparral Pro by The MIT Press. Printed and bound in Canada.

  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  • Contemporary art in Asia : a critical reader / edited by Melissa Chiu and Benjamin Genocchio.
  •  p. cm.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01491-5 (hardcover : alk. paper)
  • 1. Art, Asian—20th century. 2. Art, Asian—21st century. I. Chiu, Melissa. II. Genocchio, Benjamin.
  • N7260.C627 2011
  • 709.5’0905—dc22
  • 2010017754
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  •  ix

  • Editorial Note ix

  • Introduction: What Is Asian Contemporary Art? 
Mapping an Evolving Discourse
  • Melissa Chiu and Benjamin Genocchio
  •  1

  • Part 1 Asian Modernisms: Issues and Debates
  • National/Modern: Preliminaries (1991)
  • Geeta Kapur
  •  15

  • Open and Closed Discourses of Modernity in Asian Art (1993)
  • John Clark
  •  27

  • Developing Regionalist Perspectives in Southeast Asian Art 
Historiography (1996)
  • T. K. Sabapathy
  •  47

  • Multiculturalism/Multimodernism (1996)
  • Jim Supangkat
  •  63

  • Imagining Asia: A Genealogical Analysis (2003)
  • Wang Hui
  •  87

  • Why Cubism? (2006)
  • Tatehata Akira
  •  107

  • Part 2 Representing Asia: Curation and Criticism
  • The Future: Post-Cold War, Postmodernism, Postmarginalia (Playing with 
Slippery Lubricants) (1993)
  • Apinan Poshyananda
  •  119

  • Cities on the Move (1997)
  • Hou Hanru and Hans-Ulrich Obrist
  •  139

  • Contemporary Asian Art and Its Western Reception (2002)
  • David Clarke
  •  153

  • Home and Away: Highways and Byways in Asian Art (2004)
  • Chaitanya Sambrani
  •  163

  • Beyond the “Authentic-Exotic”: Collecting Contemporary Asian Art in the Twenty-first 
Century (2005)
  • Vishakha N. Desai
  •  179

  • The Curatorial Turn in Southeast Asia and the Afterlife of the Modern (2008)
  • Patrick D. Flores
  •  197

  • Biennale Demand (2008)
  • Lee Weng Choy
  •  211

  • The Politics of Curating “Contemporary Korean Art” for Audiences Abroad (2008)
  • Young Min Moon
  •  223

  • Part 3 Expanding Asia: New Art Histories
  • The Mono-ha: Foreshadowings and Premonitions (1977; revised 2001)
  • Lee Ufan
  •  243

  • Modernism and the Chinese Other in Twentieth-Century Art Criticism (1996)
  • Alice Yang
  •  249

  • Conceptual Art with Anticonceptual Attitude: Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (1999)
  • Gao Minglu
  •  265

  • Radicalizing Tradition (2000)
  • Salima Hashmi
  •  285

  • Historicizing “Contemporary Art”: Some Discursive Practices in
  • Gendai Bijutsu
  • in Japan (2004)

  • Reiko Tomii
  •  295

  • Theories of Being Outside: Diaspora and Chinese Artists (2007)
  • Melissa Chiu
  •  327

  • What Is Feminist about Contemporary Asian Women’s Art? (2007; revised 2009)
  • Joan Kee
  •  347

  • Reinscribing Tradition in a Transnational Art World (2007)
  • Gennifer Weisenfeld
  •  371

  • A Case of Being “Contemporary”: Conditions, Spheres, and Narratives of Contemporary 
Chinese Art (2008)
  • Wu Hung
  •  391

  • Suggestions for Further Reading
  •  415

  • Contributors
  •  419

  • Index
  •  425


“As Asia has risen amidst a global sea change to reconfigure the economic, political, and cultural order of our time, a defining question for the coming decade is, Whither Asian art? How will this new thinner for hardened categories reset the international art scene? Contemporary Art in Asia is a retrospective selection of those seminal essays by theorists, curators, and art historians that over the past two decades have given voice to the exponential rise of Asia’s art, an accelerating process of cultural counterpoint that in itself brings legitimacy to the very concept of Asian art.”
Roger T. Ames, Department of Philosophy, University of Hawai’i
“Chiu and Genocchio have chosen among the best critical writing over the last twenty years. In multiplicity this collection offers several trajectories and tendencies for engaging contemporary Asian art today. In particular the writings from Southeast Asia are key texts that I will be recommending to my students.”
Richard Streitmatter-Tran, artist and co-curator of "The Mekong" at the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
“This collection of essays will be a hugely important resource for anyone wishing to understand the history, scope, and complexity of this emergent and vital field of artistic practice. The volume will be extremely useful to specialists and also to curators, collectors, and researchers looking to gain a detailed and informative grasp of historical developments and concepts of modernity, cultural translation, globalization, and localized cultural concepts in Asia.”
Katie Hill, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Chinese Art, University of Westminster
“This long-awaited collection does a superb job of bringing together some of the groundbreaking essays that in the past two decades have accompanied the emergence and acceptance of contemporary Asian art in the ‘West.’ They illustrate how thoroughly the orientation and direction of the international art world has shifted over time.”
Stefan Landsberger, Olfert Dapper Professor of Contemporary Chinese Culture, University of Amsterdam, and Associate Professor in Contemporary Chinese History, Leiden University