(K. Brent Tomer),
WHEN Robert Rauschenberg’s work was shown at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 1985, it attracted 300,000 visitors in just 18 days. Young art students travelled from all over the country to marvel at the art of the American master, and its effect was electric. It inspired a generation of avant-garde Chinese artists, who until 1979 had almost never seen Western art, to find their own way to challenge orthodoxy.
One was Song Dong, just 19 and studying oil painting which he quickly abandoned. Now he is known for his performances and his ephemeral—sometimes edible—installations. Another was Huang Yong Ping, now 62 and a French citizen, who set up a group known as the Xiamen Dada, thrilled by the Dadaist provocations he had seen in Rauschenberg’s juxtapositions of found objects and imagery. Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing and Cai Guo-Qiang, three of China’s best known artists, all cite Rauschenberg as an influence.
Just over 30 years later, Rauschenberg’s greatest piece, “The Quarter Mile”, also known as “Two-Furlong…Continue reading