Xu Bing is a pioneering contemporary artist known for mixed-media installations that subvert systems of language, meaning, and tradition. Originally trained in printmaking, Xu Bing has a conceptual practice that has taken many forms, including meaningless Chinese characters, an American font that looks "Chinese," a "language" made up entirely of emoticons, and giant phoenix sculptures made from construction debris. Currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, Wu Street(1993), made collaboratively with the artist Ai Weiwei, slyly questions the misunderstandings inherent within the internationalization of the art world as art history and artworks travel around the globe.
Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; British Museum, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas, among other major institutions. Additionally, Xu Bing has shown at the Venice Biennale, Biennale of Sydney, and the Johannesburg Biennale.
In 1999 Xu Bing was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his "capacity to contribute importantly to society, particularly in printmaking and calligraphy." In 2003 Xu Bing was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize, and in 2004 he won the first Wales International Visual Art Prize, Artes Mundi. In 2006 the Southern Graphics Council awarded Xu Bing its lifetime achievement award in recognition of the fact that his "use of text, language, and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways." In 2015 he was awarded the 2014 Department of State Medal of Arts for his efforts to promote cultural understanding through his artworks. He currently lives and works in Beijing and New York. Presented in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Museum Education and SAIC's Printmedia department.