Eugene Wang

  • passages August 14, 2014

    James Cahill (1926–2014)

    I WITNESSED a miracle. On November 22, 2013, Berkeley held the last symposium in honor of James Cahill to be given during his lifetime. I was invited to speak alongside two of Cahill’s former students, now all eminent scholars in the field: Richard Vinograd (Stanford) and Patricia Berger (Berkeley). The person who crashed the party was the honoree himself. Before the symposium started, Cahill showed up in a wheelchair, attended by his caretaker. With his unflagging vigor, he had largely mocked the ruthless law of nature throughout his retirement years. But in the final months of his life, Father

  • AFTERSHOCK: THE RECENT WORK OF LIU XIAODONG

    A SENSE OF DOOM about painting prevailed in China in the 1990s. Painting had entered its endgame, or so the story went, just as it had in so many narratives of art the world over. But here, when easel painting hit the wall, it seemed to hit harder than ever. Many of its practitioners abandoned the medium altogether, while others sought to find a way forward by making their canvases look anything but painterly. Critics began to expound on “conceptual painting,” a term that was applied to strategies such as citation—specifically, the appropriation and even parody of well-known socialist-realist

  • “Wu Guanzhong: Abstraction and Tradition”

    The radicalism of Wu Guanzhong (1919–2010) was befuddling: He both advocated and opposed formalism. In the 1980s, he resurrected formalism to depoliticize and wrest Chinese painting from its Maoist-era servitude to state ideology.

    The radicalism of Wu Guanzhong (1919–2010) was befuddling: He both advocated and opposed formalism. In the 1980s, he resurrected formalism to depoliticize and wrest Chinese painting from its Maoist-era servitude to state ideology. His revisionism, however, went beyond repudiating overpoliticized art to challenge the very tradition of ink painting, with the shocking assertion (anathema to many) that “brush and ink come to naught!” The born-again formalism that Wu envisioned sought to liberate ink painting from its fetishism of ink-and-brush synergy and expand its repertoire