Exhibitions/ Art Object

Dictionary

Artist:
Liu Dan (Chinese, born 1953)
Date:
1991
Culture:
China
Medium:
Ink and watercolor on paper
Dimensions:
81 1/8 in. × 10 ft. (206 × 304.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Lent by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang
Rights and Reproduction:
© Liu Dan
Not on view
Shortly after finishing his monumental Ink Handscroll, Liu decided to try using watercolors for the first time, choosing a small family dictionary as his subject. Published circa 1937, the dictionary contained neither simplified characters nor Communist-inflected rhetoric. Liu’s Dictionary, therefore, can be read as a subtle commentary on how language influences the cultural identity and personal freedom of its users. Through meticulously creating effects that mimic the original object’s age and use, Liu insists on a microscopic way of looking—examining an ordinary object methodically and painstakingly, then using his art to transform it into something monumental.
Sotheby's, New York September 20, 2007; to Yang