Contemporary Chinese Art

Wu Hung

The first and only comprehensive survey of contemporary Chinese art, one of the most vital and expanding sectors of the global art world today

From its underground genesis during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), contemporary Chinese art has become a dynamic and hugely influential force in a globalized art world. In this first major introduction to the topic, Wu Hung provides an accessible, focused, and much-needed narrative of the development of Chinese art across all media from the 1970s to the 2000s, a time span characterized by radical social, political, and economic change in China. The book is a richly illustrated and easy-to-navigate chronological survey that considers contemporary Chinese art both in the context of China’s history and in a global arena. Wu Hung explores the emergence of contemporary art—as opposed to officially sanctioned art—in the public sphere after the Cultural Revolution; the mobilization by young artists and critics of a nationwide avant-garde movement in the mid-1980s; the re-emphasis on individual creativity in the late 1980s and the heightened spirit of experimentation of the 1990s; and the more recent identification of Chinese artists, such as Ai Weiwei, as global citizens who create works for an international audience.


Gorgeous…an impressive history of China's growing art scene outside of traditional Chinese and Eastern constructs.

— Architectural Digest

Readers are treated to a 'much needed' comprehensive understanding of just exactly how the Middle Kingdom has come to dominate the global art market over the last forty years.

— Art Desk Magazine

A unique example, in recent years, of a trade publisher ringing out a classic, comprehensive survey of a body of modern art by a single author who is a recognized eminence in the field.

— Bookforum

A triumphant narrative of underground art succeeding on the international stage. Profusely illustrated, this book shapes a canon of contemporary Chinese art and accompanying set of discursive concepts that will resonate for years to come…Highly recommended.

— Choice

Provides a thorough framework for navigating the pluralities of Chinese art in a global context.

— Surface

Contemporary Chinese Art is an indispensable resource today. It is the first book that systematically introduces contemporary Chinese art. It presents to the reader key art movements, styles and trends, important artists and art project, experimental exhibitions and avant garde publications and China's growing number of new museums, galleries and alternative art spaces.

— Chinese American Librarians Associations

Beautifully produced… It is a more nuanced and complete picture of a recent art culture than any other I know.

— Artblog


Wu Hung


Wu Hung is the Founder and Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago and the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Chinese Art History at the Department of Art History and the Department of East Asian Studies and Civilizations at the same university.