A Grand Materialism in the New Art From China
Mary Bittner Wiseman
In A Grand Materialism in the New Art from China, Mary Bittner Wiseman shows that material matters in the work of Chinese artists, where the goal is to call attention to its subjects through the directness and immediacy of its material (like dust from 9/11, 1001 Chinese citizens, paintings made with gunpowder, written words) or the specificity of its sites (such as the Three Gorges Dam). Artists are working below the level of language where matter and gesture, texture and touch, instinct and intuition live. Not reduced to the words applied to them, art's subjects appear in their concrete particularity, embedded in the stories of their materials or their sites. Wiseman argues that it is global in being able to be understood by all thanks to its materials and the stories that accompany it, and the art is contemporary in having to make the case for itself that it is art. Finally, it satisfies Arthur Danto's characterization of art as any representation that puts its subject in a new light by way of a rhetorical figure that the viewer interprets. The material art from China is the paradigm for an art that is global and contemporary.
- Lexington Books
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