Xu Bing "The Living Word"

The Morgan Library & Museum

poster for Xu Bing "The Living Word"

This event has ended.

A reflection on language and the nature of writing has been at the core of Xu Bing's art since the beginning of his career in China during the mid-1980s. It is therefore particularly fitting that the Morgan, a library as well as a museum, should present his spectacular installation, "The Living Word," a poetic evocation of the relationship between the written word and its meaning. The title of the installation points to the Buddhist inspiration that informs Xu Bing's work. "Buddhists believe," the artist wrote, "that 'if you look for harmony in the living word, then you will be able to reach Buddha; if you look for harmony in lifeless sentences, you will be unable to save yourself... My work and my method of thinking have been my search for the living word."

Xu Bing created the first version of The Living Word in 2001 for an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC. In a second version, a year later, he replaced the Chinese characters with the English dictionary definition for "bird." At the Morgan, Xu Bing designed a third version specifically for the soaring space of Renzo Piano's Gilbert Court. Using Chinese language, The Living Word 3 includes more and larger characters than the previous two versions. A selection of Xu Bing's preparatory drawings for this installation is also on view.



from July 19, 2011 to October 02, 2011


Xu Bing

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