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Zhang Hongtu

(1943 - )


Landscape #5


China / United States


Zhang Hongtu was born in 1943 in the Gansu province of China. His family was Muslim and his father was a leading scholar of Arabic, who was denounced as a rightist by the Chinese government in 1957. As a result, Zhang was unable to join the Red Guards. Instead, Zhang studied at the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing, where he received his BA in 1969. In 1982, he left China and settled in New York to pursue a career as an artist, studying at the Arts Student League in New York from 1982-1986. Zhang's work underwent a significant transformation after he arrived in the United States, and he began to explore various genres that had been denounced by Chinese authorities. He is best known for his pieces known generally as Material Mao - a body of work that features various representations/manipulations of portraits of Chairman Mao Zedong. Zhang has held various solo and group exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Montreal, Hong Kong, Cuba, and Germany. He currently lives and works in New York.

Further Reading

Wu Hung, Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century, Chicago: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 1999.

Works by Zhang Hongtu, Hong Kong: HKUST Center for the Arts, 1998.

Barme, Geremie, Shades of Mao: The Posthumous Cult of the Great Leader, Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1996.

Goodman, Jonathan, "Zhang Hongtu at the Bronx Museum of the Arts," Asia-Pacific Sculpture News, Winter 1996.

Yee, Lydia, "An Interview with Zhang Hongtu", in the pamphlet accompanying the exhibition, Zhang Hongtu: Material Mao, held at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1995.

Hay, Jonathan, "Zhang Hongtu / Hongtu Zhang: An Interview", in Boundaries in China, ed. John Hay (London: Reaktion Books, 1994): 280-298.

Cohen, Joan Lebold, The New Chinese Painting, 1949-1986, New York: Abrams, 1987.