“The Art of Mu Xin: Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes” was organized by the Yale University Art Gallery. It traveled from Yale to the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, The Honolulu Academy of Art, and The Asia Society in New York. At the completion of the exhibition, the paintings were donated to Yale University Art Gallery.
The first major exhibition of works by the contemporary Chinese writer-artist Mu Xin featured works created while the artist was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and its immediate aftermath. The two series, 33 ink-and-gouache landscape paintings and 66 inscribed sheets, are virtually the only surviving works that predate the artist’s immigration to the United States in 1982. Together they offered the first comprehensive evaluation of Mu Xin’s art and confirmed his importance as an independent, experimental artist and thinker in the history of twentieth-century Chinese painting and literature.
The paintings were drawn from the collection of The Rosenkranz Foundation and the Prison Notes from Mu Xin’s own collection. The co-organizer of the exhibition, with the Yale University Art Gallery, was the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago.
“The Art of Mu Xin: Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes” was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by co-curators Alexandra Munroe, then-Director of Japan Society Gallery, and Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Chinese Art History, University of Chicago.
As Mr. Rosenkranz wrote in his preface to the catalogue, “It is clear that Mu Xin risked his life to produce both the Prison Notes and the landscape paintings. When I asked him why he took this chance, he replied that he would be risking his life to not produce them. And so he would have been, for his life is so much a life of the mind.”