Yue Minjun 岳敏君
From ArtSpeak China (ASC) Wiki
Childhood & Family
Yue's father worked in the oil fields of northeast China. Yue worked as an electrician for the Ocean Oil Company in Tianjin before beginning his studies in art in 1983.
Education & Development
In 1985, Yue graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Hebei Normal University, and found a job teaching drawing at North China Petroleum College. In 1989, he was inspired by a painting by Geng Jianyi in the China/Avant Garde show in Beijing, which depicted Geng's own laughing face.
Throughout the early 1990s, Yue Minjun was part of the artistic community at Yuanmingyuan, an area on the outskirts of Beijing encompassing a large park. Young artists from all over China rented cheap housing there from the local farmers. In 1992, Yue Minjun sold his first painting to Johnson Chang, the owner of Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong, for USD 1,500. A week later, an American investment banker showed up in the artists colony, and bought one of Yue Minjun's paintings for USD 5,000. Since then, Yue says, he has been prolific and well-remunerated.When the community was disbanded, Yue Minjun moved to another outlying area, Songzhuang Village, along with some fifty other artists. Yue remains in Songzhuang village today.
In 1994, Schoeni Art Gallery showed Yue Minjun's work for the first time. By the mid 1990s, Yue had already been grouped with Fang Lijun and Liu Wei (b. 1965) as part of the Cynical Realism group, a term coined by critic Li Xianting. These were artists whose work had political overtones; in particular, a sense of cynicism about what was happening in the country and the world.
Cynical Realism takes its name from Aldous Huxley's famous quotation: "Cynical realism: it's the intelligent man's best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation." Faced with a tumultuous and unstable environment, these artists created works that simultaneously exposed their suffering and masked it with irony, a glaze of "stylized ambivalence." In Minjun's case, this ambivalence is conveyed through the over-emphatic, insincere grin on the face of his figures--that is, his own face, as with fellow Cynical Realist Fang Lijun who also features himself as the recurring protagonist of his art.grey humor that emphasizes the canvas' boundaries as much as Yue's ability for individualistic self-expression. His repeated use of his own image fashions himself into a vacant icon, an ad proclaiming the spiritual emptiness of the contemporary world. His poster-like style invokes the Socialist Realist iconography of the Cultural Revolution. His iconic figures enact themes including war and private conflict, the manipulation of history and art history, and the ambiguity of gender.
Such styles as Cynical Realism that are dedicated to social commentary have emerged in just the past 25 years, following the opening of China to the world by Deng Xiaoping in 1979. Art critic Gao Minglu spoke to CNN reporters about the nature of the Chinese avant-garde: "They felt a very strong responsibility for social reform," Gao recalled. "This movement was not just for creating an art form or style; rather, the artists' concern was that their activity be a part of the social change."
Emergence & ReceptionHowever grim or critical their subject matter, Yue Minjun's portraits (and indeed the Cynical Realist movement en toto) have become synonymous with the boom in Chinese Contemporary art. According to Artnet, "China's post-1989 Cynical Realism movement has shaped and defined what we have come to understand as the major force behind Chinese contemporary art, and the leading artists of this movement, such as Fang Lijun and Yue Minjun, have undoubtedly achieved international status."
In 1994, Schoeni Gallery showed Yue Minjun's work for the first time. Yue has shown work internationally in many exhibitions including the 5th Shanghai Biennale, Mahjong at Kunstmuseum, Bern (and elsewhere) and Xianfeng! at Museum Beelden aan Zee in the Netherlands. Yue Minjun's first solo museum show in the United States, Yue Minjun and the Symbolic Smile, took place at the Queens Museum of Art, New York, from October 2007 to January 2008, and featured bronze and polychrome sculptures, paintings, and drawings.
For Yue Minjun's CV, click here.
In 1992, Yue Minjun co-operated with a gallery for the first time. Now his partner galleries span Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, and other countries, though none has an exclusive relationship with the artist.
He is represented by Art Beatus in Vancouver and Chinese Contemporary in Beijing and London, among others.
Acquisitions & Auctions
An Art Market Insight article written in early June of 2007 discussed the high-rollers of the Contemporary Chinese art crowd, saying: "To date, Xiaodong Liu is achieving the highest valuations of the Chinese contemporary artists...Amongst the artists whose works have estimates at under 10,000 euros, we would mention Guangyi Wang, Minjun Yue, Tiehai Zhou..." Three weeks after this Art Market article appeared, the aforementioned three Minjuns sold; elevating the artist's market value so steeply, one would feel hard-pressed to imagine any work of his ever being estimated at 10,000 euros.
Sotheby's London in 2007. Until its sale in 2007, the painting had been owned by Trevor Simon, a junior investment banker who bought it with about a third of his salary while working in the region. Simon kept this painting in storage for 10 years as required by the conditions of sale. The record sale took place a week after Yue's painting "Massacre of Chios" sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong for nearly $4.1 million. "Massacre of Chios" (shown below) shares its name with a painting by Eugène Delacroix, depicting the 1822 event in Greek history.
The global financial crisis of 2008, of course, affected art markets everywhere. Yet the top of the contemporary Chinese market seemed minimally influenced, with Yue Minjun's “Seeking for Terrorists” of 2006 auctioned for HKD 1.8 million at Christie’s Hong Kong. 85 pieces by Yue Minjun were auctioned in 2008, with a transaction rate of 78.46%, resulting in an RMB 84.81 million (USD 12 million) gross for the artist's work. That year, Yue Minjun was also nominated for Time magazine's “Man of the Year 2007” designation, the only artist on a short-list including Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 http://new.artzinechina.com/display_vol_aid111_en.html
- ↑ http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1999/china.50/inside.china/art.overview/
- ↑ http://www.artnet.com/Galleries/Exhibitions.asp?gid=424335412&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;cid=113805